As recently noted in The Boston Globe, the race for the White House is beginning to resemble a school playground fight more than constructive political discourse. But luckily for President Obama and Governor Romney, the mudslinging seen in this year’s election hasn’t escalated to the cruelty perpetuated earlier this week by a group of New York middle schoolers against 68-year-old bus monitor Karen Klein. Following the incident and subsequent 10-minute video of the bullying, which was posted to YouTube earlier this week, Klein become a national story. But whether it’s seen on the school bus or on the campaign trail, incivility is apparently becoming more commonplace in the United States.
Both the Obama and Romney camps have resorted to malicious tweeting and even heckling as part of their campaign strategies. Even members of the media have all but abandoned a respectful approach to campaigning, as exemplified by Neil Munro’s interruption of the President last Friday in the Rose Garden. It seems, perhaps, that the nastiness that obscurity sometimes spawns is preparing us for sharper rhetoric in our everyday lives, which is reflected in our acceptance of some of the tactics practiced by those competing for the highest office in the country.
At the very least, Klein’s tale does come with a silver lining: sympathizers have raised nearly $500,000 in private donations for Klein so that she can take a much-needed vacation. Maybe we will see a similarly encouraging turnaround in our politics.