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It’s All About Who You Know

This afternoon on my newsfeed, I learned of the death of actor, Brian Dennehy.  He was an all-time favorite of mine.  My first thought was, ‘Wow, I’ll really miss him.  I liked him so much.  He was great.” I had to catch myself for a moment and stop to think – I never met Brian Dennehy.  Not so much as a hello.  I have seen him in several movies which I enjoyed and found his character to be well-acted and totally believable.  But I know absolutely nothing about him. And I certainly do not know “him”.

It made me think about politicians.  As a child, I paid no attention.  As a young adult, I took a quick minute’s notice.  Middle age, I began to watch the debates.  Each presidential election has seen the number of candidates in the primary grow to a number that would all but prevent them to stand on stage at the same time.  In fact, they ended up splitting the debate into two groups to allow each candidate a minimum amount of talking time.  Even that was a limited amount.

If you watched the debates this year, the candidates speaking time amounted to the following:

Elizabeth Warren topped out with 16 minutes and 35 seconds.  The others had less time and all but Biden have dropped out.  If that happened to be the only debate you watched, you saw (at best) the candidates speak for 16 minutes and based upon that window of time you have made a choice of who you would like to see run the country you live in. 

I’ve been to clubs and met people and I could not ascertain in 16 minutes if I wanted to accept a drink they bought me never mind to see them again.  But we form what we believe to be strong enough opinions – even relationships with people we see on a TV or a movie screen in a matter of minutes.  Why?

Something they say, something they do, the way they look grabs our attention and resonates with us.  Perhaps they remind us of someone we hold dear.  I read a conversation just yesterday about Deborah Birx, a member of the COVID-19 task force and how lovely the scarfs she wears are (not kidding).  I do not disagree; she wears lovely scarfs and outfits.  One is nicer than the next.  But is that really the thing we need to be observing about this woman?  Dare I say that the scarf she wears does not make her credible, at least – not in my book.

We become enamored with characters.  Who we think they are.  We do not know these people and probably never will. 

I went to high school with hundreds of people.  Some I actually knew and spent a lot of time with.  Others, I knew “of”.  I concretely decided who I liked and disliked based upon what information about them I had available.  I did not wait to form an opinion.  The moment a single thing they said or did struck a chord in me, the opinion was there.  And the only way it changed was that some other piece of information or interaction occurred to change it.  But it went on and off as simply as a light switch.

We are expected to form intelligent opinions about candidates within the parameters of how much exposure we have to them; be it on television, promotional advertisements, endorsements (which would come from people we have equally gotten to know) or gut feeling.  In a local election, I actually voted for someone based upon the endorsement of a group I was affiliated with; only to find out later that the person was not deserving of mine or anyone elses vote.  TOO LATE!!!  That person did not win.  But I trust you get my point.

We the people are going to have to do the work and study the candidates that present themselves asking for our vote; or more importantly, asking for our trust to lead us and our community, our state and our country down the right path.  Do you like them?  Do you hate them?  Most importantly – DO YOU KNOW ENOUGH ABOUT THEM???  It’s time for we the people to do our homework.

References:

Almukhtar, Sarah, Cai, Weiyi &  Leatherby, Lauren, February 19, 2020; Which Candidates Got the Most Speaking Time in the Demcratic Debate; The New York Times, retrieved on March 16, 2020 from the world wide web https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2020/02/19/us/elections/debate-speaking-time.html

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