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  • CC Robinson

Danger Ahead - or is it?

It's election season in the US again and - once again - I'm shocked and awed by the extreme political rhetoric.


Though I really shouldn't be. It seems we do this every year.



Here are some recent headlines just to give you a snapshot of the "danger" that lies ahead:

"Biden warns GOD could set nation on 'path to chaos' as democratic system faces strain." - Washington Post

"Election officials say efforts to intimidate voters are widening." - DNYUZ

"Obama: Democracy may not survive if Arizona Republicans win." Washington Post again

"Which will happen first -- Trump indictment or presidential announcement?" - The Hill


And here's my favorite recent headline - "Kanye West can't sell 'White Lives Matter' shirts because two black men own the trademark" - CNN.com


I'm still trying to figure out why in the world Mr. West thinks selling these shirts is a good idea. And I'm kind of glad the two African American radio hosts in AZ took responsibility for not letting that trademark fall into the hands of the KKK, for instance. But t-shirts, Kanye?? I don't get it.


Anyway, back to serious political discourse...


Looking at the headlines alone, you'd think we are more divided than ever. Funny enough, I don't agree with that determination at all.


Why?


Because the vast majority of Americans are paying absolutely zero attention to these headlines. They're scrolling social media, stuck in some den of videos on Tiktok. Most probably #cattok or #halloweentok right now, based on the trending video feed.


Therefore, the newspapers and news outlets resort to dramatic one-liners, attention-grabbers and doomsday predictions. What else will make us stop scrolling and listen?


Did you know there's an election next week that could flip the House and possibly the Senate?


When I'm on social media accounts (Twitter doesn't count - everyone knows it's a toxic wasteland for politics), I'm not seeing opinion posts or people talking about their favorite candidate.


You know what I'm seeing instead?


I'm seeing new babies, homecoming pictures, and anniversary posts.


I'm seeing friends mourning the loss of loved ones and struggling with mental health because they're still remote-working. There are even some posting remodeling pictures or about a new job (remember, we're still in the Great Resignation).


Are we really as divided as these headlines suggest, or do politicians and media want us to think we are?


I honestly believe it's the latter.


Why would they do this?


Fear sells.


It sells newspapers, online subscriptions, and $5,000 a plate dinners at Senate fundraisers.


Truth is, the vast majority of the American voting public are strangely united on the day-to-day issues that really matter - like safe cities and communities, opportunities in education for everyone, and a robust economy.


We may disagree with how to get to these ends, but that's what honest public debate is about. And voters expect their elected officials to engage in that debate - and many do.


But you'd never know it from the headlines.


If I could write a few headlines for this week leading up to mid-term elections, here's what they'd be:


"Have you researched the judges running for office in your district? Here's a quick run-down of their key decisions."

"Want to know where to vote? This interactive map shows your poling place."

"How do you learn what your local officials' platforms for office are?"

"Using Facebook Groups to conduct political research - a voter's guide."

"Leveraging social media to get out the vote."


And lastly, "Don't panic, just vote."




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