I'm (Your Name Here) ... and I approved this message
I don’t know how much longer I can take this, whether I’ll make it to May 19.
A prisoner in my own home, captive to this viral onslaught that not only affects my mood and anxiety level ... it gives me the chills, and threatens my tenuous grasp of sanity.
COVID-19? No, that’s a real-world problem. I’m talking about something much worse.
This aerial assault — through television, radio and internet — by candidates trying to trump one another through boasts and charges and hyperbolic insults.
It’s like facing a nightly swarm of murder hornets; only instead of damaging their intended targets, their sharpened zingers sting us instead.
For those of you who have avoided this scrum, welcome to the wonderful world of the war to win the seat in the United States House of Representatives from Oregon’s second district ... otherwise known as “Where’s Walden’s Replacement?”
We’re focused on the Republican candidates here for a couple of reasons.
First, because it’s those fine upstanding citizens — particularly the top tier of the 11-candidate race — who have force-fed us their hard-to-stomach attack ads.
And also because ... well, you know ... it’s Oregon’s Second Congressional District.
Did you know, for instance, that there’s a candidate whose name sounds like (depending on which commercial you’re hearing) Trumpbacker, Carpetbagger, or Weed-whacker ... although that last one might have been for a home and garden supply store.
Another candidate’s name gets thrown about so often, I started having flashbacks to Ben Stein teaching an economics class — which made me realize that life does move at you pretty fast.
I started listening to these ads because, after all, this is the first time in the 21st century that someone other than Walden will be our voice in Washington.
So it seemed kind of important at first to hear what these folks had to say.
Not much, it turns out.
They apparently don’t follow social-distancing protocols because they spend a lot of time claiming that they’ll stand closer to President Trump than the next guy ... while casting their opponents as needing to be cordoned off with bands of yellow warning tape.
There’s a lot of yellow tape in these ads, usually seen in front of an opponent’s photo — always in black and white — that shows the targeted candidate with their hair astray and/or their mouths wide open.
Gov. Kate Brown, also in black-and-white with a messy do and gaping maw, appears in many of the ads being bought by out-of-state interest groups. I don’t know about you, but “Vote for me, I’m not a Democrat” seems like a kind of silly thing to say in the Republican primary.
I could go on, but I’d just make us all sadder ... and none the wiser.
Besides, as any historian above the salt would tell you, none of this is new. Yes, the “I’m rubber, you’re glue” nature of campaign advertisements is standard operating procedure.
Just because this stuff has worked in modern society since LBJ had Goldwater nuking that little girl picking flowers, does that mean our ability to communicate effectively through our various media should have stood still as technology improved?
Shouldn’t our would-be leaders strive for something better than — in the words of Col. Sherman T. Potter — this horse-hockey?
It’s just that, with a society in crisis and a political system fraying at the seams ... shouldn’t we be expecting more? Not just out of our politicians, but out of ourselves?
You know that answer.
I know that answer.
And I suspect that, deep down in the bowels of the campaigns where they store their supplies of yellow tape and black-and-white film, the politicians know that answer as well.
Tearing down political opponents continues because it works.
It works because we (as a society, if not as individuals) let it work.
We let it work because our resistance to such tactics has been worn down by years of being exposed to little else. Such tactics didn’t start with the current occupant of the White House ... and they certainly won’t end when there’s a new one.
And so I see these ads, nowadays thanking the stars for the invention of the MUTE button, and the melancholy I feel isn’t so much about how the eventual U.S. Representative from the Second Congressional District of Oregon was elected.
It’s from knowing it’s just a drop of spit in the petri dish to which we willingly take part — through our cable channels of preferred propaganda, through commentary disguised (or not) as entertainment, through our social media stops of choice.
The historians are right: We’ve prevailed through this sort of garbage before; we’ll do so again.
Note: This column has been edited to remove a factual error.
Mail Tribune news editor Robert Galvin is surrounded by yellow tape at firstname.lastname@example.org