Monday, October 29, 2012

Finding Sandy's Silver Lining

Have you heard it today?

Not just the chatter about Sandy, the hurricane about to make landfall over the most densely-populated swath of the United States, between Washington DC and New York City.  That's a legitimate news story, as opposed to the haranguing into which the media's political coverage has devolved.

No, have you heard the blissful silence about our upcoming election?  Void.  Dearth.  Lack of cacophony!  It's still there, of course, but only if you really want to get your partisanship fix.  Otherwise, about the only reference we've been afflicted with today has been how each candidate is scaling back their public appearances so voters along our Atlantic Coast can prepare for the storm.

And you know it's a monster storm if candidates are re-working their schedules, and the media is switching topics from politics - which is their advertising cash cow right now - to the weather.

Sandy, in its windy fury, has triumphantly obliterated the wall-to-wall campaign coverage and pompous political partisanship that has been eroding the fabric of our society.  Sandy sucked politics out to sea!  It may be blowing in an ill wind of physical devastation and humanitarian destruction, and that will indeed be awful, if even the most conservative forecasts about Sandy's wrath come to fruition in the next few hours.

Until then, however, can't we luxuriate in this unexpected lull before the election storm?

Sure, there's a huge crane dangling over the intersection of  New York's West 57th Street and Sixth Avenue, down the block from my beloved Calvary Baptist Church.  Yes, winds have pushed the city's historic harbor up to and over Manhattan's east side artery, the FDR Drive.  They've flooded low-lying parts of Long Island, Connecticut, and Delaware with sea water.  Schools and businesses are closed, Wall Street has shut down, air travel is being impacted across the country, and a friend of mine on FaceBook says strips of vinyl siding are flying through the air in her suburban New Jersey neighborhood.  She reports some nearby high-rise apartment buildings are being evacuated due to the danger of airborne projectiles.

On the one hand, I realize it's pretty insensitive of me to welcome the change in media content provided by this imminent danger being experienced by my friends and family along the Eastern Seaboard.  But can't we take a moment to enjoy the relative silence?  Finally, our news organizations, television networks, and social media sites have better things to do than ramble on breathlessly about Barak Obama, Mitt Romney, Republicans, Democrats, and swing voters!  It's just too, too bad this comes at the expense of real human life and property.  Indeed, we've only a brief window of opportunity for flippant attitudes which welcome a natural disaster instead of political blather ad nauseum.  Let's pray Sandy falls apart as quickly as some political campaigns, otherwise we might soon be longing for the relatively trivial banalities of ubiquitous election coverage instead of crisis aftermath coverage.

Until then, with Sandy bearing down on the media meccas of Washington and New York, people have suddenly lost their Democrat and Republican labels.  They've all become potential victims, people who very shortly could be living together without electricity, Internet access, hot food, or cell phone service.  For this moment, it doesn't matter who anybody is voting for next Tuesday.  Instead, they all need to be protected, informed, and returned to normalcy as soon as possible after Sandy has done her thing.

After all, lest we forget, there are bigger issues in life than politics, and more important names than Obama and Romney.

This week, that bigger issue and more important name is Sandy.

Enjoy her while you can, voters of America, and be thankful that our first responders have better track records than politicians.  Next week comes the election, and you know neither Obama nor Romney will cede the spotlight to anybody for any longer than they have to.

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