It's all in the nature of campaigning.
What are we supposed to make of this, because something just doesn't seem to add up.
There's a drawn-out, nasty as nasty can be campaign season leading up to an election. From the office of the President of the United States all the way down to smaller elected offices, like something known as the Public Service Commissioner in North Dakota, half-truths and outright deceptions are lobbed back and forth in a variety of advertising formats. Campaign commercial narrators who make a tidy income doing voice-overs because their voices sound so ominous and even downright scary blare from our TV screens and radios for months, telling us that if we vote for the wrong person, demons hiding under our kids' beds are going to jump out and eat the faces of our innocent, delightful offspring. Literally, during those final, exhausting days leading up to Election Day, campaign advertising is pretty much all we see and hear, and the half-truths seem to become borderline lies, as we're told that our suddenly face-less children, if we cast misguided votes, are going to have their limbs slowly and agonizingly sliced off by growling, hairy creatures with hellish laughs, armed with nothing sharper than butter knives. Or something like that.
Then, it all comes to a screeching halt. Suddenly, it's quiet and wonderful and almost utopian, as we venture to our appropriate polling location and have our say in the voting booth. Then, we watch the TV, listen to the radio or click refresh continuously in our Internet browsers to find out if our favorite candidates prevailed.
The hours pass and Election Day becomes election night, and even very early in the morning on the day after Election Day. Results pour in and as it becomes clear who's going to win and who's going to lose, projections are made and races are declared over. Then, in the ensuing hours, one candidate after another, whether they're the victors or the ones who came up short, strolls across stages on their way to podiums and microphones, in front of rapturous, giddy supporters or, if things didn't go so well, sad, tired supporters with tears in their eyes who manage to applaud but don't produce the thunderous electricity that victorious claps can.
About now is when things start to get, as President Obama might say, “sketchy.”
The candidates, whether they won or lost, suddenly play nice. And not just your run of the mill, say hi in the grocery store aisle nice, but Aunt Jemima syrup oozing all over your pancakes sweet. They're gentlemanly. They're gentlewomanly. They give new meaning to the word gracious. And humble. And courteous.
In other words, they act like decent people, people you might even consider voting for if you didn't disagree with their political philosophies.
The winners positively acknowledge their opponents, wish them luck and thank them for their "hard-fought" campaign. The losers, meanwhile, sound a similar refrain, possibly adding that they're praying for their victorious opponents as they embark on the next few years as holders of elected office. If the supporters in the crowd start to boo, hiss or jeer an opponent at this point in the speech, the candidate standing before them raises his or her hands as part of an effort to nix the negative activity, like a teacher trying to quiet a classroom full of hyperactive fourth-graders.
This is the same candidate, keep in mind, that as recently as one day earlier endorsed a campaign commercial warning voters that if they voted for the other candidate, their face-less, limb-less children would have their remaining torsos tossed into a raging hell-fire by those same hair-covered, growling creatures who are now suddenly ravenous for some charbroiled, tender, young meat.
How is this possible? Is the nasty campaigning legitimate and the graciousness on display afterward nothing but an Oscar-worthy acting performance? Or, are these do-whatever-it-takes-to-win politicians actually way better people than all this nasty campaigning would have the wary, jaded, cynical voting populace think they are?
Can they have it both ways? "Hard fought" seems to be the favorite two words candidates use to describe their campaign tactics once all the smoke has cleared and the votes have been tallied, but "hard fought" is how a high school coach describes a football game, because at least what's happening on the gridiron is real, it's genuine.
If this is to be consistent and make any sense to bleary-eyed voters, candidates need to have the guts to stay the course. If you won, take the stage in front of your euphoric supporters and tell them you should have won because your opponent is a lying, cheating sloth. And if you lost, stand behind that podium and have the courage to stick with the your-kids-are-now-going-to-die-a-horrible-death-because-you-voted-for-this-fraud-of-a-human-being theme that you put forth during your campaign. Don't congratulate. Don't offer up prayers. Don't spend months getting your base into a rabid, salivating lather of hate and then hush them if they dare boo when you utter your opponent's name. Instead, scream your own "BOO!" in the microphone. Raise a middle finger or two while you're at it.
Because, anything short of that, and none of this makes any sense.
Well, unless we change the nature of election campaigning in this country.