Thank God the Louisiana governor’s race is over. At this point, I don’t even care who won. The real victory here is that the incessant barrage of brutal attack ads by both candidates and their affiliated PACs has gone silent. (Note: This column went to press prior to the re-election of Gov. John Bel Edwards.)
My rapture over the cessation of hostilities is such that I’d gleefully embrace some unsuspecting female nurse in New York City’s Times Square—if such behavior was politically correct—and politely ask her to pucker up.
This truly is Festivus for the rest of us.
Our months-long internet nightmare of flashing, gif-infused block ads and 15-second videos warning us of the horror that is either John Bel Edwards or Eddie Rispone has mercifully come to an end.
Once again, it’s semi-safe to check e-mail. By the way, where do attorneys, oil and gas advocates, union groups, flacks for the Republican Governors Association, flacks for the Democratic Governors Association and Richard Lipsey find the time to be so proficient with their spamming thoughts on political life in our banana republic?
Opening an old-fashioned mailbox is no longer fraught with the danger of being on the receiving end of a blitzkrieg of oversized, heavy-stock political fliers. Phones across this state have gone blissfully quiet now that the robocallers and text spammers have temporarily laid down their arms of programmed vitriol. Honestly, did any of us really need 15 recorded calls from Donald J. Trump to have a clue about which candidate was POTUS’s chosen one?
Facebook users, feel free to resume posting cute photos of your children or pets, go nuts waxing romantic tales of your exotic travels—replete with stunning sunset pics. The days of even the most harmless of posts devolving into insult-laden politicking are done.
No longer will a death ray of red-hot hatred beaming into our homes temper the ecstasy that is Ed Orgeron, Joe Burrow and Clyde Edwards-Helaire storming into the Tuscaloosa Death Star to take down Darth Saban’s evil Crimson empire.
Bad movie metaphors for $500 aside, Alex, how are we of the purple and gold variety supposed to enjoy Edwards-Helaire spinning, sprinting and dancing his way into the end zone when what follows is hearing that Edwards, the governor, is an alleged socialist, West Point fraud who kills economies and lets murderers go free?
How can we truly celebrate Burrow’s game- and Heisman-clinching fourth quarter gallop when our joy is interrupted in mid-exultation by claims that Rispone, a self-made gajillionaire, is a lover of all things Bobby Jindal who allegedly pals around with David Duke, gobbles up corporate tax breaks and hires illegal immigrants who aren’t paid very well?
Seriously, if Orgeron wants to drop Red Bull-infused celebratory F-bombs in the supposed privacy of LSU’s locker room, it ought to be about the merciful conclusion of one of the nastiest governor’s races in this state’s history.
I need a shower to hose off the sleaze just thinking about it.
Pitifully, what we didn’t hear amidst all the charges and counter-charges of filth and degradation was word one about what either of these men will do to address the myriad of actual challenges facing a state that’s the football equivalent of Vanderbilt—minus the really smart people.
Equally disturbing is if either Edwards or Rispone did manage to muster the courage to say anything resembling insightful or substantive, the response, most assuredly, would have been a thermonuclear takedown from the other camp or its minions.
Why, you might ask, is that such a certainty? Set aside for the moment your nasty thoughts about Elizabeth Warren and focus instead on the response from her fellow Democrats the instant the presidential contender released her Medicaid-for-all plan. Notice any hints of legitimate debate? No, what we got from the 20-something candidates all shilling to live in the White House was one verbal scud attack after another.
Again, forget about the name and party of this particular candidate or the specifics of her plan, and focus on the big picture.
Which, in our current political climate, is this: Substance is suicide.
That depressing reality is not courtesy of those seeking office—or the armada of consultants, PACs and special interest groups who do the strategizing and waging of political wars. No, blame for this depressing reality falls with we, the voters.
As the chasm that is our political divide widens, the only thing that matters is winning. And that doesn’t happen when some candidate or party has actual thoughts on how to address a problem, provide a service, grow the economy or educate our children. No, winning—in this disturbing world in which we find ourselves—is defined as working like hell to make sure the other side loses.
Consequently, how can anyone realistically expect a meaningful solution—which, heaven forbid, might require a modicum of sacrifice and compromise—when giving an inch gets one fired in the next election?
And once we accept the definition of “winning” is “not losing,” then notions of nuance or substance don’t stand a chance. The far safer—and effective—campaign formula is to lift one’s self by tearing down the opposition.
And we make it clear each and every election cycle that going negative works—and the nastier the better. We may feign public disdain, but inside our soul we’re cheering each and every insult as if LSU was scoring another touchdown against Alabama.