By Jay Floyd
Americans love a hero. So ravenous is our appetite to elevate the human to super human, even those who died fleeing in terror from the Colorado movie theater shooter were commonly branded ‘heroes’, though with a few exceptions they really were just victims.
Hero worship is rarely more florid than in an election season, and this season is no exception. Each party chooses a candidate and a switch is flipped in the minds of their followers. I’d love to describe us as ‘supporters’ instead, but when we abdicate our own critical thinking about a candidate — we’re followers, not supporters. Each candidate is their party’s hero, goddamnitt. Regardless of whether or not they say and do things that are utterly contrary to our most strongly held beliefs, they are our newborn heroes and they are going to solve all of our problems so shut the fuck up about their contradictions and lies, thank you very much. They’re the pristine offspring of our hopes and ideals, our sense of righteousness made flesh and washed clean in a shimmering waterfall of patriotism. Tell me my baby’s ugly and I’ll rip your cynical face off and you will have deserved it. Don’t believe me? Ask anyone in my party.
We complain that the media is shamefully biased in one direction or another then shred, refute or entirely ignore the legitimacy of anyone who tells us the ways in which our heroes are not who they pretend to be. Of course the media picks sides. We demand it.
Third party advocates are no different. They, too, want heroes and adore the adoring of them. It’s a little like rooting for Parker Posey to win an Oscar. What a statement that would make about the sham that the Oscar voting process actually is… which would be a fine statement to make if anyone who had the power to address it was listening. They aren’t. They’re the Oscars. They’re so successful at what they’re actually doing that dissenting sentiments simply don’t matter.
So here we are, saddled with a government that’s littered with ‘public servants’ whose corruption is increasingly transparent to even the most casual of farmers, yet every four years we anoint our heroes and dance to whatever music they play while pretending it was us who picked the tune. Phony political heroes are always playing our song.
Perhaps it would be more effective to spend our passion on attempts to correct the corrupt system rather than participating in or commenting on it. Campaign finance reform alone would go a long way toward solving the foundational problems with our government, but when we’re drunk on hero worship it seems like a pedantic idea. It may, however, be one of the few issues that most of us can agree on.
When we are substantially in agreement, Americans get things done. We’ve shown that we will work tirelessly toward common goals, exhibit profound courage in the face of opposition and become deferential to a shared desire for some greater good. We sacrifice. We coalesce. When we fail, we try again. Harder.
A lot like heroes.