Perhaps you’ve heard WNYC’s most recent promotional ad, which is very clever.
In Stanley Tucci’s come-hither voice, it coos as follows: “There are people who count on you to be witty, at least smart. They don’t know what to think about Goldman Sachs or fracking in the Catskills. They expect you to tell them. And if you let them down, who knows what will happen to the world…or at least New York, which for some people is the world. You owe it to them to listen to WNYC all the time, so please don’t do a half-assed job, that’s not like you. WNYC. Never turn it off.”
How do we (who actually don’t ever turn off WNYC) feel after hearing this ad? We feel that rush of being responsible, grown-up, sober, and forthright. We feel like mensches…..even though WNYC has no idea who we are and even though this call to honor involves nothing more than being the one to parrot NPR programming to our friends at the water cooler.
The point is, every one of us feels better when we feel we’re doing the right thing – standing for principle, being responsible, holding the door, putting the toilet seat down. Call it the “Mensch Rush.”
So, to our Governor, Chris Christie, at the Republican National Convention last night. We Republicans, he says, are more interested in being respected than loved, even if that means having to tell the hard truths. We believe in upright values, he says, like education, family, the care of the elderly, the power of our principles, and the strength of our convictions.
Let’s skip over for now whether the Republican Party is a party of principle, beyond at least the principle of protecting their prodigious bank accounts. The point is this: Just like us NPR listeners, the people listening to Christie’s speech got a Mensch Rush, too. They felt equally good about being honest, caring, steadfast, and fearless, as Christie told them they were.
Here’s my point: Our guts tell us what is right and what is wrong. It’s no different for Republicans than it is for NPR listeners. So why are we so horribly divided as to what is right and what is wrong in making public policy? That’s what I’ll be writing about this weekend.