The primary elections are coming up in a little over a week and the choices ae hard to figure out. Do I vote for the homophobic bigot or the gay socialist? How do I choose between the scallywag and the scoundrel? What is the difference between the near-do-well and the do-nothing candidates? Is one candidate less of an opportunistic professional liar than the other is? So many questions and so many bad answers.
For some, I suppose, the sleaze factor in our modern politics is just an accepted part of the game; although I have a hard time imagining that one wakes up one morning and decides to enter a profession where character assassination and mudslinging are required skills. The allure of power is very compelling and apparently sufficient to overcome common sense, personal morals and a sense of good taste in most of the political candidates. One almost feels sorry for those unwilling to lower themselves into the pit that is our current political arena. There is no way in this era of dark-money, PAC-based, mudslinging that their good names will not be dragged down to the level of their opponents.
We do not have a political environment that is necessarily based upon the voters making educated and considered choices; but, rather one that is highly susceptible to appeals to emotional messages based upon our fears and insecurities. The electorate tend to seek out and vote for those candidates with whom we can best identify in the never-ending “Us vs. Them” battle of self-interest. Since those battles are almost always based upon fear, the candidates who can best feed upon and amplify those fears often get our attention and our votes. The poor candidate espousing doing what is “right” is seldom heard above the shouts of “protect what is ours.”
There is, of course, a case to be made that this system has been with us from the beginning of the country. Political battles from the very beginning of our nation were often filled with unsubstantiated accusations that one of the candidates was somehow unfit to serve. The Chicago Tribune did an interesting article about the history of political mudslinging during the last presidential election – see http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/opinion/commentary/ct-campaign-mud-slinging-history-flashback-perspec-1002-md-20160930-story.html. Somehow, the nation has survived a long procession of elected scoundrels (at least that’s how the winners were characterized by their opponents during the election cycle).
So, on August 7th, we will once again hold our collective noses and vote for the candidates whom we found to be the least onerous. Admittedly, it is sometimes hard to see the good that is within those for whom we vote, since their opponents and their PACs have covered them with so much mud. And, remember that this primary election is like one of the undercard matches at a WrestleMania extravaganza. We haven’t seem anything yet. Wait until the main event, when the real fireworks start going off. You want mud? We got mud. Let the real mudslinging begin!
Ahhh, politics. Choices, choices, choices. Get out and vote on August 7th. At a minimum you can then sport one of those bumper stickers that reads, “It’s not my fault. I voted for the other guy.”