FROM UGLY POLITICAL ADS TO THE BEAUTY OF RETURN DAY

Now that the long election season is behind us, surely people of all political stripes can agree on one thing: At last we’ll get a respite from the bombardment of attack ads, lies, and slimeball nastiness that poured out of too many campaigns.

Now that the long election season is behind us, surely people of all political stripes can agree on one thing: At last we’ll get a respite from the bombardment of attack ads, lies, and slimeball nastiness that poured out of too many campaigns.

The worst ad that I saw was not one of those awful screeds claiming that “Barack Obama Is Secretly A Muslim Terrorist.” Instead, the winner of the 2008 Worst Award goes to a local candidate here in my city of Austin, Texas.

Enjoying Hightower? How about a weekly email that gives you the full scoop?

He’s a Republican who ran against the incumbent county tax assessor on a cut-taxes platform – which he took to a gory extreme. His ad depicted a man lying in a bathtub that was filled with ice and trickles of blood. He had just cut out one of his own kidneys, explained a narrator, because high taxes left him no choice but to sell his organs. The ad’s tagline was: Stop the bleeding.”

The kidney man lost, but such political yuck made me appreciate something that happened two days after the election. Out of Sussex County in Delaware, a bright glow of political sanity and even sweetness emerged. People there have a tradition called “Return Day,” dating back to around 1792.

It’s a post-election celebration in which opposing candidates for state and local offices join the public to hear the town crier announce the official election results. The former rivals are paired up to ride to the event together in horse-drawn carriages and antique cars. After the reading of returns, Republican and Democratic leaders jointly lower a ceremonial hatchet into an ornate cabinet. This “Burial of the Tomahawk” officially ends the political season. Then everyone adjourns to a big festival, with food, music, and libations for all.

How civilized! Everyplace should have a Return Day. Check it out: www.returnday.org.

“Quips and slips,” Austin American Statesman, November 8, 2008.

“Battling the bastards is about as much fun as you can have with your clothes on.”

Never miss a word from Hightower– sign up today:

Send this to a friend