If today’s political campaigns were a book, it would be delivered to the customer in a plain, brown wrapper. If they were a “sport,” it would be professional wrestling.
One has to be repulsed by the sight of a great country, a country that produced Washington, Lincoln, FDR and other giants, having its politics degenerate into campaigns for public office that reach new lows for sliminess and absurdity every two years. The reasoning in having candidates tell voters, “I approve this message” was that surely they would be too ashamed to be directly associated with dirtball ads. The mistake was in not realizing that “ashamed politician” is an oxymoron.
It’s hard to believe now, but there was a time when political ads encouraged voters to take stock of a candidate’s attributes for office. Now they make you want to take a shower. The strategy is no longer the elevation of Candidade A but the destruction of Candidate B. The new hustings are the gutter.
At a time when our country and people are in peril in a war that will continue indefinately, the first dirty bomb has been set off by U.S. politicians whose advertising is destroying what little respect for politics is left. I have to believe the degeneration of U.S. politics serves the interests of terrorists more than it does politicians who win by drowning their opponents in a cesspool. If I were Osama bin Laden I would be pleased to see Americans increasingly cynical and contemptuous of a political system where negative beats positive, where the erosion of respect for elected leaders will make Americans less likely to rally around them.
I wish I could say that campaign ads like those we have seen this year are an insult to the intelligence of voters. They should be, but clearly they aren’t because they work. And they will be even sleazier two years from now. Americans probably accept them as just one more element of a culture that has long been in the toilet and sinks deeper every day.
As long as the voters refuse to punish the politicians who undermine the system with campaign ads that represent darkness rather than light, the tactics of those politicians will continue to punish America.
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