Thursday, August 2, 2012

The Mirage of Clean Politics

By Sean MacEntee / flickr.com
There's a new Facebook group on the loose, "100 Percent FED Up". Recent posts include a photo of FLOTUS in the arms of U.S. Olympic wrestler Elena Pirozhkova and the sarcastic caption, "OUR FIRST LADY REPRESENTING OUR GREAT NATION WITH CLASS AND INTEGRITY AT THE 2012 OLYMPICS!" Another is a meme admonishing food stamp recipients for owning iPhones. Still another questions the existence of Obama's birth certificate. (Are people STILL doing that?) And my favorite: side-by-side photos of Joe Biden and Herman Cain. Under Joe Biden's photo (labeled "Democrats" and--tongue-in-cheek--"Not Racist"), a caption reads: "Think Black people are incapable of achieving anything without the help of white people." Under Herman Cain's photo (labeled "Republicans" and "Racist"), the caption reads: "Think Black people can achieve anything they set their minds to without help from anyone." None of these is smart, or useful, or kind. Just to prove I'm equal opportunity, I will say that Change.org has also been guilty of some of the same counterproductivity, to coin a term.

Indeed, I am fed up, but not in the way this pseudo-political group implies. I am tired of political ads that are blatantly misleading. I am tired of personal attacks, which by definition reveal nothing useful about the leadership abilities or policy positions of their victims. They are wrought in back rooms by spin doctors and wielded haphazardly, as weapons. I am tired of the barrage of fundraising e-mails--even from a candidate I support--with pithy, curious subject lines. At least once a day they beg for my donation to add to an (at least partially) ill-used war chest. I am tired of watching my candidate wrestle in the proverbial muck, wasting his time and sullying his character. I am tired of disingenuous promises. I am tired of opportunistic photo ops. I am tired of all-too-transparent pandering. I am tired of oversimplification, of quotes stripped of their context, of slogans without the details. I am especially tired of mudslinging at the expense of marginalized groups--the LGBTQ community, people of color, and low-income moms, to name a few.

Is this really how we elect a president?

To be clear: I applaud get out the vote efforts that seek to engage underrepresented people. I am happy that some portion of my campaign donation goes to pay hardworking field organizers (and many of them are unpaid), thoughtful policy advisers, and the under-recognized staff who turn the gears, pour the coffee, advance the gigs, etc. I am even okay with the use of my donation to power an informative website, or print a campaign flyer, or stamp a button. I understand that campaigns are expensive, and I appreciate that being out-raised imperils your chances of success. What I hope we can eliminate in my lifetime is the resource-intensive part of this process that ashames and frustrates me--the part where we call each other dirty names.

It's time to clean up our elections. In 2016, the candidate who sticks to positive ads, sets achievable goals, and puts out substantive policy positions gets my vote. Period.

2 comments:

  1. I know how you feel. I have friends on both sides who constantly post memes without doing any fact checking. I wish I could block all of that without unfollowing or unfriending anyone. As for political ads, I stopped listening to them a long time ago. They don’t offer anything but spun truths and half facts. I prefer to go online during my lunch breaks at DISH and actually read up on any given topic or candidate. I even went so far as to stop the commercials from even playing. I haven’t seen a single political commercial (or any commercial) since I upgraded and started watching my Primetime Anytime recordings with Auto Hop enabled. Now all of that campaign money is a total waste. Maybe they should donate it to charity instead of spending it on ineffective brain washing.

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  2. After the fact, I'm sure you are re-thinking your words. The people to whom these ads are directed are not deep thinkers and they are the ones who voted in the current politician in chief. The commercials you speak of are not as harmless as you profess. At the end of the day, this has nothing to do with political ads. This has all to do with politics, period. We have too many politicians and not enough statesmen. This country is going down the tubes if we continue on this path of destruction. Sites like 100 per cent fed up; conservative hammer; and the blaze, etc. are thought provoking and lead thinking people to see a different view. I check everything out and have found most of their posts valid and although provocative it sends me to seek out the facts (sometime they are not available) since we have a corrupt media presentation of the facts. You cannot deny that a lot of information was conveniently left out of the political ads, eg. the fiscal cliff; Benghazi and a host of other faux pas that the left would not like their constituentcy to see. Many staunch left wing supporters are singing a different tune at this time, after they see the big chunk out of their pay checks. The tax breaks for the supposed "middle class and poor" that were supposed to be instituted are a lie. Not only did the rich get a tax hike, the poor and the middle class did as well. I don't know if you get a pay check or if you are self employed but you can validate that yourself. Additionally, the health care disaster--premiums have gone up double digits on guess who? The folks who purchase individual coverage--these are the folks who don't rely on the govt. but have chosen to insure themselves and their families. This says volumes, this administration is pushing for government funded and mandated health care no matter how you look at it. You sound like an intelligent person read the facts and see the outcome it is not rocket science. Politicians, which we have many in DC, tend to campaign all the time. No decision they make has anything to do with the people they serve, it is leveraged with how they will look when they come up for re-election. Heck I would do that as well if I was protecting a golden egg (salary, pension, perks, etc) We need to remove those motivators. Pay our politicians what the average American family earns ($50,000.) offer them the same medical benefits the average American worker gets; Social Security benefits for their retirement and only the perks they need to get the job done. You will see that whole mess in DC cleared out in a few years. Only dedicated statesmen will want to do that job and when their term is completed (yes limit terms) they go back home and do what they did before they went to Washington, DC. There are no other answers. I am sick and tired of Washington telling me how to spend my money, money that I earn and who doesn't give a darn if that money ceases for any reason. Let the States handle their own problems. People live where they do because they want to in most cases. If you don't like what the state in which you lives has to offer or offends you MOVE. The government cannot legislate where you live, at least not at the current time. I would never criticize free speech on either side, the burden of proof to determine its validity is with the hearer/reader.

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