Pop Culture Civility.

Not to sound as though I just stepped off of the set of a Frank Capra-esque film wearing rose-colored glasses and humming “God Bless America,” but the ugly turn that this presidential election has taken in the recent week has been quite dispiriting to someone who wants to see genuine debate on important issues. Not character assassination. Not accusations about affiliations and scandals from long ago -- lobbed by the candidates, their spokespeople and at least one candidate’s spouse -- along with accompanying ads that have sinister-sounding voiceovers. This is a shame, given that the two presidential candidates have reputations for being honest and for taking principled stances.

 

So I was reading the newspapers, watching cable TV news and was in an overall dour political mood because of the dark detour the road to the White House has taken, when I read articles from the November issues of Redbook and Marie Claire, amid lifestyle stories about turning down the noise in one’s life and how to improve your sex life were election pieces and profiles of the would-be first ladies that lifted my mood.

 

Redbook, for example, featured page after page of photos and high-minded quotes from country music stars, draped in red, white and blue, talking about the importance of voting. Not for Democrats. Or Republicans. Not in blue states. Or red states. But for the country. Your country. “The great burden of the freedom we experience as a generation is apathy, unfortunately,” singer Jewel said. “If we weren’t free, we’d be much more bothered. Voting is so important.” Another singer, Kimberly Schlapman said: “I grew up going to the polls with my mother. She always let me go inside the voting booth with her. It was such a treat and it taught me the importance and privilege of voting.”

 

Along with the pages overflowing with Americana, Redbook profiled Republican vice presidential candidate, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin in a piece called, “The debut of the hockey mom.” Describing Palin’s performance at the Republican National convention in what the magazine called “The Year of the American Woman,” the story said, “It was quite a sight to see this new kind of political figure stand so confidently on the national stage, and many of the 37 million viewers watching on TV at home (or at least the female ones) thought, ‘Huh. That could be me up there.’”