Political Ads and Public Trust

I’m fairly certain that I’ve written about this topic previously, but since I can’t find that essay, you will be spared my re-posting it with new introductory commentary.

I want my title to say it all. Without a basic body of trust — a fundamentally shared sense that we are one people, somehow all in this together, the kind of spirit we experience in response to tragedies and tornadoes — without this fundamental trust, it becomes impossible to sustain a civil society, with civilized rules governing even our deepest conflicts. Which is why we hear so many say today expressing fear for the future of our democracy.

I still believe that a deeper shared trust prevails and will continue to prevail despite all the efforts of those stoking the fires of division.

Obvious case in point, the barrage of media advertising and commentary which floods every possible channel of communication — from TV and Cinema to still strong talk-show radio and all the new social media. Ads and commentary which express stunningly opposed and deeply polarizing views. Etc. As we all already know….

I hope to have my ballot in the drop box soon. Somehow, irrationally, this is for me a sort of magical rite which allows me to turn off the ads (for me mostly even more fully.

Yet I have another thought, that I shouldn’t mute such ads or channel surf them away. Rather I should gather with friends to laugh at them, even the simplistic and polarizing ads by folks we may be voting for.

Ridicule is perhaps second only to reverence in importance, and they are compatible virtues.

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