Wednesday, August 29, 2012
Marcus Carey’s On the Marc: Cacophony of politicians tooting own horns is deafening
OK, full disclosure: What follows is a rant.
I am sick and tired of hearing political speeches which start with a story of how the speaker was born into poverty, raised by immigrants, taught life’s lessons by a strong mother, lived on the wrong side of the tracks, was mistreated by mean kids, had pimples, glasses, a speech impairment, ugly clothes, knocked knees, pigeon toes and bad breath, and walked to school uphill both ways, barefoot in the snow, yadda, yadda, yadda. What the devil is all of that about?
I’ve been watching the Republican National Convention. I’ve watched every single convention for both parties every year as long as I can remember (except the ones I attended). I heard these poor-little-pitiful-me stories over and over last night, and from very prominent people. I saw the cameras pan the faces of the audience and watched people stare at the speaker as if awestruck by the humility. I’m calling Bull Hockey.
Look, 50 percent of Americans make below $33,000 per year. Only 10 percent make more than $100,000 per year. And if you go back about 40 years when most of these speakers were kids, the numbers were even lower. So do you know what this means? It means that these stories don’t set these people apart; they are the same stories that can be told by millions of Americans born then and now, and who really cares to hear any of our stories?
Do these folks tell their personal history to connect with the majority? It would seem from the way in which they deliver these personal anecdotes that they are looking for pity or praise rather than trying to connect with people. In fact, I wonder how many people hear these tales and, as their first reaction, conclude that if somebody is up there telling all this stuff about themselves on camera, then most of it is probably not true anyway?
I do think it is important for us to encourage others to try to better themselves, to not hang their heads in defeat because they started out with very little. I do think that it is important to tell the success stories of people who, by their own drive and initiative, pulled themselves out of poverty to own and run their own businesses. I do think that it is a good idea to champion the lives of those who did well for themselves and have given back to the community, lent a helping hand to others struggling to raise themselves up out of poverty. But I would much prefer to hear this stuff from somebody else rather than the subject of the story himself. Manufactured humility turns my stomach.
I was raised by men and women who did not brag. Our sports teams were taught to play hard until the whistle blew and then shake the other team members’ hands. There were no high fives, end zone celebrations, gloating interviews or self-aggrandizement tolerated. If an upcoming speaker had a great record of accomplishment, then the person introducing the speaker told the audience all about it. It used to be that the speaker was REALLY a little embarrassed by such introductions.
Yes, I know that many prominent people started out under circumstances quite similar to the life being lived by many in their audience. But in my opinion, the drippy, overly dramatic tear-tugging tales that I heard being told by convention speakers about themselves last night was an embarrassment.
I wish they would all just stop tooting their own horns. The time they waste talking about themselves is a cacophony I can do without.
Marcus Carey is a Northern Kentucky lawyer with 32 years experience. He is also a farmer, talk radio host and public speaker who loves history and politics. He is a prolific and accomplished writer whose blog, BluegrassBulletin.com, is “dedicated to honest and respectful comment on the political and cultural issues of our time.” He writes a regular commentary for KyForward.