Gazette-Mail editorial: Back to basics of being decent humans

A woman’s voice asks, wouldn’t it be great if every man and woman were good? “Wouldn’t it be great if human beings were great at being human?” it continues.

It’s an advertisement. One launched by the Marriott hotel chain and its subsidiary brands more than two years ago that is resurfacing on online music apps and in other places. When it was launched in 2017, it was called the “Golden Rule” campaign.

Yes, they’re trying to attract business and tout customer service, but it’s interesting that a hotel chain would try to appeal to such basic principles as “do unto others” and “Hey, don’t be a jerk. As a bonus, if you come here, we won’t be jerks to you.”

It speaks to the times Americans find themselves living in, where basic human kindness is a luxury, thanks to the vitriol and polarization of nearly everything, while politics and culture are melded together. It also speaks volumes that this campaign would still be in use or re-launched 2½ years later. Apparently, basic human decency is still an out-of-reach, unattainable ideal, no matter how many extra towels are brought to a guest’s room.

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Speaking of political polarization, the end of the decade is only a few days away, and what better way to start the 2020s than with statewide elections in West Virginia and a presidential race?

Brace for the onslaught of ads and get ready to hear old chestnuts, like “the war on coal” and alarmist phrases such as “the liberal Pelosi agenda wants to repeal the 2nd Amendment!” somehow applied to a county commission race. Prepare to be reminded of who voted for who two, four or even six to eight years ago.

It’ll certainly be different to watch a president run for re-election while impeached — if, that is, the aforementioned speaker of the House ever sends the articles of impeachment to the Senate. Buckle up. The baby that ushers in 2020 is destined to be a hunched, gnarled old man gripping a scythe by May.

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When it comes to negative campaigning, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., is legitimately considered the architect of the modern smear job. He wasn’t the first one to employ fear-inducing or negative ads. Some readers surely remember Lyndon Johnson’s “Daisy” ad that promised Americans a nuclear holocaust if they voted for Barry Goldwater. McConnell was more subtle. Sort of.

The majority leader modernized mudslinging and dumbing down issues in his bid for Senate back in 1984, when he ran ads featuring a hunter and bloodhounds chasing and treeing an impersonator of his opponent, incumbent Walter Huddleston. McConnell didn’t have much to go on, so he attacked Huddleston’s “voting record,” which the hounds sniffed to get his scent, even though the ads never stated what that voting record was. The hunter added audible lines here and there, somehow implying that Huddleston was solely responsible for everything from removing school prayer to giving away the Panama Canal.

McConnell won the race by 0.5 percent, and has clung to power ever since, regardless of consistently low approval ratings. You can thank the man who enjoys the nickname “Grim Reaper” for increased corporate influence and money in politics, the rusted-shut gears of the legislative branch, continual negative campaigning and the naturally resulting voter apathy.

Funerals for Monday, January 27, 2020

Davis, Valerie - 11 a.m., Cunningham Memorial Park, St. Albans.

Hamrick, Leonard - 1 p.m., Waters Funeral Chapel, Summersville.

Hughes Jr., Denver - 1 p.m., Curry Funeral Home, Alum Creek.

Keen, Cora - 2 p.m., Tyler Mountain Memory Gardens, Cross Lanes.

Lazear, Elizabeth - 7 p.m., Keller Funeral Home, Dunbar.

Masters, Delores - 1 p.m., Glen Ferris Apostolic Church, Glen Ferris.

Milroy, Miller - 11 a.m., Simons-Coleman Funeral Home, Richwood.

Petro, Edith - 11 a.m., Cunningham-Parker-Johnson Funeral Home, Charleston.

Phelps, Herbert - 2 p.m., Chapman Funeral Home, Hurricane.

Stanley, Gary - 1 p.m., Pryor Funeral Home, East Bank.

Stewart, Donna - 1 p.m., First United Methodist Church, South Charleston.

Walker, Iva - 1 p.m., Roush Funeral Home, Ravenswood.

Wilkinson, Catharine - Noon, Raynes Funeral Home, Eleanor Chapel.

Williams, Joseph - 3 p.m., Tyler Mountain Memory Gardens, Cross Lanes.