One of the less-remembered Disney films was the 1973 movie World’s Greatest Athlete. However, the beginning of the film stands out to me.
Coach Sam Archer (John Amos) is a multi-sport college coach and we get to see him giving a pep talk to each sports’ team he coaches and in the opening of each talk, the Coach declares each different sport to be his life. The movie was poking fun at overworn exaggerated sports clichés that coaches try to use to motivate their team.
There is a political equivalent to Coach Amos’ clichéd opening and here it is: “This is the most important election of our lifetime.” How many fundraising letters, blog posts, and speeches have begun with those words? We hear it every four years and if it’s fundraising letter, it’s followed by lots of scary lines with bold, underlined text or words screaming in ALL CAPS about how we have to beat the other side.
Of course, the declaration of the super importance of the election isn’t the end of the manipulation…oh no. You then get a list of horrible things that will happen if the other party should win the election which assumes that every policy priority that the other party has will be enacted should they win the Presidency.
As a voter, it’s easy to get brow beaten. You may not like or trust either candidate, your conscience may loathe them, but who are you to cast a vote for a third party or Independent Candidate in the “most important election of our lifetime?” Thus you end up picking between the lesser of two evils.
Let me be clear that in criticizing this rhetoric, I’m not saying that elections don’t have consequences: they certainly do. However, as long as we believe that every election has the potential to bring about the apocalypse, no one will ever find the courage to take the necessary steps to build a new party. It will always be, “In this election, we’ll back the lesser of two evils, but next time we’ll stand up for what we believe in and build a new party…” Only next time, we’ll find ourselves in an apocalyptic “most important election in our lifetime” and the cycle will never end.
I’ve written in a previous post about the importance of rejecting the political binary that says we have to choose between the Republlican and Democratic Nominee. The first step to this is to reject the apocalyptic nonsense foisted on us every four years by the political class.
In my next post, I’ll address a more realistic way to look at elections and their consequences.