We House Multitudes! Why We Should Embrace the Filth of Politics

There has been some talk about how “nasty” this election is, how “dirty” it is and how “impolite” the debates have been.  I’d like to address this issue by using one word.


Ok. It’s not a word.  It’s a sound.  A gesture, really. I make this noise and I roll my eyes and wave my hand.  It translates to, “get over it” or “whatever.”  I use “Pfft” when your complaining has no weight on reality and, thus, it has no import. But, I mean, I guess I should go deeper, right? Depth. Specifics. It’s what makes this country great.

Politics are supposed to be dirty.  By their very nature, politics are disgusting, horrible things.  We aren’t supposed to like them and we aren’t supposed to look forward to them.  Yet, they are a necessary function of having a “Republic,” something that sort of seems like a democracy (I’ll let you figure out the difference).  We can’t have candidates fight with swords, even though that would be awesome.  Candidates have to fight with words and images, rhetorically battling each other for dominance.  In the end, we get to judge them. We go to the voting booths. We get one vote. We go home and cross our fingers that our candidate won. If we picked the right guy or gal, we jump up with glee! Then we complain about the person we voted for and talk about how we made a mistake or how the person we voted for “changed.”  It is what it means to be an American.

What bothers me the most is the idea that it could be another way.  In theory, Obama and Romney could write down all their proposals.  We could read them both and then decide.  We “could” do that.  But, I mean, all their proposals are on their websites.  Nothing is stopping you from reading them. Or, you could read all the speeches they make.  Or, you could read all the articles written about them. You could do that.  But you don’t.  And you won’t.  Most Americans are lazy.  Even the possibility of having to actually “read” a document longer than a page drives 90% of American bat-shit crazy.  Most Americans can’t get all the way through a simple Facebook posting.

So Obama and Romney fight! They call each other a liar and they talk over each other and they point fingers and say stuff in mean voices!  This is a fight! That’s how a fight works! You hit someone and you get hit and when you’re done, there is blood on your shirt and your favorite pair of pants are ruined.

Some stuff isn’t rational and some stuff can’t be resolved with reason.  Some stuff is gastrol.  Some stuff is dealing with the guts, your loose bowels.  Some stuff smells like shit and has worms crawling in it.  Yes, this world is shiny and clean and you can walk through wearing your fancy new shoes and have your hair nice and neat. But there are other, nasty aspects of our society that is rooted in the mud.  You don’t expect a construction worker to come home whistle clean.  You don’t expect a garbage man to be smelling like pine-sol after a long day.  A landscaper isn’t going to have clean fingers nails when she comes home, baby.  They are dirty because their work is of the dirt.  You are probably saying that politics isn’t supposed to be nasty and gross.  This is when I tell you that you’re wrong and your assumptions are flawed.

I’ll prove my point with this:  Our first debate with the Presidential candidates, Obama lost because he wasn’t aggressive enough.  The second one, he won because he was more aggressive.  Yes, Romney and Obama looked like two Alpha males beating their chests in the Amazon, trying to claim territory.  They looked that way because that’s what they are.  You can try and build all the walls you want and drive the fanciest car you can find.  At the end of it, we’re so closely related to the Apes that we often see ourselves as one of them, screaming and yelling and marking our land with our pee.  We are civilized, yet animals. We are supposed to be polite, but we find glory in being rude.  We are cultured, yet we are savages. We are complex! We are conflicted! We are contradictory!  We house multitudes! I don’t see this as a bad thing. I see this as just another beautiful aspect of what makes us Human.