Commentary: A reason to celebrate political ads

The (Raleigh) News & ObserverNovember 5, 2012 

Wasn’t that just about the cutest thing you’ve ever seen, little Abigael Evans sobbing because she, as we have, has been pummeled by nasty campaign ads

In a video clip that has been viewed by millions online and on the TV networks, Abby told her mama she was crying because she was “tired of Bronco Bamma and Mitt Romney.”

Tell the truth. When you saw it, didn’t it make you just want to pinch her cute little cheeks? Click here to find out more!

Nah, me neither.

What it made me want to do is tell her – using a phrase I abhor and promise never to use again – to “man up, little girl. Democracy is messy and sordid and loud and can sometimes make you cry.”

It is also, as Churchill said, the worst form of government – except for all the others.

Democracy is messy

Instead of assuring little Abby that she is blessed to live in a country where politicians can verbally assail each other with truths or falsehoods, her mother simply reinforced the idea that the two candidates for president are some sort of boogeymen to be feared. (One of them, truthfully, is.)

Said mommy densest: “It will be over soon, Abby. The election will be over soon.”

Even National Public Radio, to which Abby and her mother were listening, indulged her fears, posting this on its blog: “On behalf of NPR ... we apologize to Abigael and all the many others who probably feel like her. We must confess the campaign’s gone on long enough for us, too. Let’s just keep telling ourselves: “Only a few more days, only a few more days ...”


You know what that mother and NPR should’ve said? This: “Abby, honey. Bronco Bamma and Mitt Romney both want to be the leader of this country. They have very different visions of how they want to lead and their passion sometimes makes them say things about each other that aren’t true or nice.”

Sure, that might be some heavy stuff to lay on a child whose distress might have been assuaged by a cookie. Giving her an impromptu history lesson, though, beats the heck out of genuflecting to a four-year-old and indulging her fears of something that should be celebrated.

“Ain’t it great, Abby,” her mama should’ve told her, “that we as Americans have the right to challenge the president and question his integrity, even his citizenship? There are actually countries out there where you can’t even think bad things about the leaders, much less get on the radio and say them.

“And guess what else?” Abby’s mom and NPR should’ve said. “There are also countries where little girls like you can’t go to school because the fanatical leaders don’t think girls should be educated and will shoot them in the neck.”

Change is even harder

They could’ve informed her that there was a time in the not-too-distant past where women in this country couldn’t vote. But people who were as passionate about women’s suffrage – as Bronco and Mitt are about their issues today – yelled and marched in the streets until the walls of opposition came tumbling down.

The mama could’ve also told Abby that when she decides to run for president – a four-year-old listening to NPR must have a political future – people are going to spend beaucoup bucks to say good things and bad about her.

One of her opponents may even dig up a news clip from 2012 showing Abby crying over the way democracy works.

“Was young Abigael Evans,” the ad will ask ominously, “a communist even in kindergarten?”

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