Whatever Happened to Class?

two people yellingI didn’t watch the Republican debates last night. Besides the fact that I’m a registered Democrat, there’s just too long to go until the actual Presidential election for me to risk my blood pressure this early. I also prefer to wait until the chaff gets shaken out of the wheat until I start forming an opinion.

I did, however, watch a brief snippet posted on a Facebook page in which Chris Christie, my state’s snide bully of a governor, and Senator Rand Paul from Kentucky did their best to eviscerate one another on the topic of the NSA’s data collection policies and procedures. A friend and I had joked that we should watch the debate and do shots every time Donald Trump brushed his hair back. She even sent me a set of hysterical bingo cards that had as its squares not letters and numbers, but actions or words that Republican candidates would say–“Trump Calls Someone a Loser” and “Someone Talks about Building a Giant Wall.”

Everybody seems compelled to make their voice heard, no matter what they’re saying.

Doug and I opted to finish out the first season of True Detective instead, and I know it was time better spent. More and more, the thought I’m left with after watching debates in any presidential election “season” (they get longer and longer, don’t they?) is that our towns and our states and our country are mostly run by blustering buffoons. What the hell happened to class?

The other day, when my family attended a musical performance at Rutgers, my daughter and I went outside during the intermission to grab a quick snack. On the way back in, I went through the door first and held it for her. She grabbed it from me and then, instead of following me to the lobby, she held the door for everybody behind her. Doug and I have always valued manners and tried to pass that onto our kids. My heart swelled when she held that door.

Yet, I can’t believe that we’re the only ones teaching manners to our children. In fact, I know we’re not. So what’s happening in our nation? At what point in their growth are people losing their manners and learning to converse with one another at the top of their lungs? Who teaches them that interrupting another person who’s speaking is acceptable? It’s simply disheartening to know that so many citizens of this nation are willing to reward its top prize to the one who yells the loudest. (Yes, I think I did just quote Pink for a little bit there).

Have you ever seen Chicago? The play or the movie; either is fine. There’s a great song in it, sung by Mama Morton and Velma called “What Ever Happened to Class?” I think of it way too often these days. The new social etiquette that I’ve heard is that you shouldn’t say something on Facebook or Twitter or Instagram or any of the many social platforms that you wouldn’t say to a person to their face, in person. It’s a great rule of thumb. Until you watch YouTube videos and political candidate debates.

Whatever happened to fair dealing
And pure ethics
And nice manners?
Why is it everyone now is a pain in the Ass?
Whatever happened to class?

People have lost their filter–that little voice that says “Hey, is this worth it? Would you want somebody treating you this way? Does this point that you absolutely feel you must make matter in the long run?” Instead, everybody seems compelled to make their voice heard, no matter what they’re saying. Everybody also takes things too personally. Are we losing our ability to laugh at ourselves along with our manners?

Politics and polite sound like two words that derive from the same root, but if you check out etymonline you’ll see that they don’t. But let’s pretend they do. We need more politicians who demonstrate class: who know their view, make their point and yield the floor. Disagreement and hate should not be synonymous.

After all, different viewpoints is what checks and balances is all about. At some point, between the left and the right, there should be a middle ground. A place where people learn to compromise; to see shades of grey instead of black and white; to understand that nobody is fully right and nobody fully wrong. We need less divisiveness in this country and more harmony. And please–would somebody bring back some class?


2 thoughts on “Whatever Happened to Class?

  1. “Politics and polite sound like two words that derive from the same root, but if you check out etymonline you’ll see that they don’t. But let’s pretend they do.” It’s sort of like deciding to be happy by starting out smiling whether you feel like it or not. Eventually, you actually do feel happier. Great post, Rachel.


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