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Featured Column
Week of 9.6.2004
"You're a sissy, nyah, nyah!"
          My old friend Frederick usually comes over to my house to watch parts of the Democratic and Republican National Conventions. We sip on Diet Cokes and snack chips and guacamole dip. Because both of us are registered Independents we don’t root for one side or the other – we just watch. Fred and I have been watching political conventions together for almost 30-years, but this is the first time we felt like we needed showers after they were over. I think some of the speakers at both conventions needed showers too. Fred and I felt like we were covered with a coating of rhetorical grime.
           Such an enormous amount of crap has been thrown at the four major candidates that I’m not sure Americans will be able to be honestly proud and supportive of whomever wins in November. So much political and personal dung has been slung that the winners will be contaminated by the constant denigration – perhaps for the rest of their lives.
           During one particularly deprecating session Fred said, “Let’s turn it off, I can’t stand to see the President or future President insulted this much.” Then Fred said, “What does a person living in England, Romania, Russia or Japan think of our political process when they see speaker after speaker get up and insult and denigrate the other candidates to this degree? And I wonder what the rest of the world thinks of our political system when they see our conventions filled with frenetic people wearing crazy hats, outsize rhinestone eyeglasses, fright wigs and clown costumes?”
           On the streets outside the conventions we often find thousands of protesters waving signs and banners arguing for dozens of causes and in some cases crying out printed words of contempt for one candidate or another.
           All of these actions, regardless of how offensive, are acceptable under our form of freedom and democracy. However, I wonder if our political conventions and their value to the system have run their course of usefulness.
           We no longer use the conventions to select the candidates – we know who the candidates will be long before the opening gavels crash – long before the celebrity speakers line up to throw their support behind their candidates and long before the talking heads on television do their best to create an air of excitement and anticipation. I’m not sure if I will choose to watch any more of these hokey, staged national political conventions on television.
           At times during both conventions’ eight days of fame the goings-on resemble nothing less than a high school pep rally. Have we, as a nation, not become sophisticated and articulate enough that we can produce political candidates without the frenzied, increasingly insulting, almost comic shows we stage every four years? Must we show the world this loud, boisterous and divisive side of our system? In fact, must we show ourselves this side of our system?
            What must an Iraqi or a Pakastani think as they watch the stream of speakers take the podium and fire volleys of insults and disgrace at our current or future president. I doubt if one of them would be thinking, “This is a wonderful way, I hope that our country one day will be able to do this – with the crazy hats, loud music and big insults.”
           I just hate to see an American President take the oath of office in January covered with the slime of a mean and divisive campaign. The man declared the winner in this election could be irreparably tainted with the denigration and disrespect from this unique and painful campaign.
           Let freedom ring. Campaign, debate and protest. Go ahead.
           Just don’t tear this country apart with your enthusiasm and lust for office!
"And you're a punk, nyah, nyah!"
Cheap shots in the campaign
      Ron was born in the Bronx, New York. He was raised in Southern California and lived in Honolulu, Hawaii for three decades. He attended Inglewood High School and U.C.L.A.. His youthful goal was to become a major league baseball player. In Hawaii Ron played on a series of championship softball teams. He is an active tennis player.
      Ron’s career began at the Inglewood Daily News where as a youngster was enrolled in a publisher training program. He served as an advertising salesman, circulation manager, writer and layout and design staffer. He has been a newspaper publisher at the Oregon City Oregon Enterprise Courier, the Beloit Wisconsin Daily News, the Elizabeth, New Jersey Daily Journal and This Week Magazines (Hawaii).
      Ron lives with his wife, Marilyn, in San Diego, California. His two children, Douglas and Diane also live in the San Diego area. Ron’s interests range far and wide and are reflected in his columns diverse topics.
     
Ron Cruger