For a few days after Super-Storm Sandy, the presidential campaigns were put on hold. Governmental officials, candidates, and campaigns paused their campaigning to deal with the storm. There was no aggressive political maneuvering, no name-calling, no partisan bickering.
I don't wish natural disasters on anyone, but that was a pleasant time in our national political life. It's a shame that it took a natural disaster to scale back the bitterness in the presidential campaign.
But what if the candidates structured their campaigns as if there were a disaster looming? What if they decided to work together, and to treat each other well all of the time?
It seems to me that there's a basic and fundamental difference between the two parties, and between the two candidates. And, as we witnessed in the third debate, there are some substantial similarities.
What would the campaign season be like if the candidates and the parties began the campaigns by celebrating their similarities?
And then, what would the campaign season be like if the candidates each remembered that the other is a beloved child of G-d and treated them as such?
And after that, what would the campaign season be like if the candidates and parties respectfully articulated their differences?
Right now, the candidates seem to be focused on making their opponent look bad rather than articulating what's good about their own positions and philosophies.
It seems to me that one side wants to paint the other as a greedy, self-serving, uncaring, out-of-touch rich person who has no idea what regular people are like. And it seems to me that the other side wants to paint their opponent as an un-american socialist who only wants to destroy our nation.
Neither of these is a true portrait of either individual, but these are the messages we're sending. What if we, as a people, decided to send a different message?
Right now, the message from politics is that it's perfectly acceptable, even encouraged, to denigrate someone else, to paint them as the embodiment of evil with no redeeming qualities. I'm not sure that's a message I want to hear, and I'm sure it's not what I want to teach my children.
What would the campaign season, and our national life together, be like if we did less tearing each other down and more building up of us as a whole?
What if the candidates structured their campaigns as if there were a disaster looming? I believe they ought to, because I believe that if we don't change the tenor of our national political conversation, a disaster is looming.