Politics is the dirtiest business in America, and perhaps in the world. At least, in our country, we no longer have bloody coups d’état. But, it would be naïve to think our political battles are bloodless. What will a politician do to gain office or to maintain a position of power? Just about anything.
Consider the Obama/Romney slugfest. There are no limits to what either side will say about the other. The lies and distortions emanating from the pols and their unscrupulous henchmen are mind-boggling, but they are effective in garnering votes.
The most recent onslaught involved a comment Romney made at a private fundraiser. (Note: I think it is laughable that either candidate would speak freely at one of these affairs.) Romney spoke about a group of people he called the “47 percent.” He, “inelegantly” tried to say that no one in the group would vote for him no matter what he said or did. The opposition twisted the comment by implying that Romney thought this group consisted of “moochers” and “deadbeats” with no sense of responsibility. The Democrats artfully, and deceitfully and successfully used Romney’s comments to blast him over the past few days.
To think that Romney would intentionally disparage and walk away from a group that, in fact, includes supporters of his campaign and constitutes nearly half of America makes no sense even for an inept politician. Politicians sometimes say dumb things, but this suggestion rises above them all, if it were only true.
The birther issue has plagued Obama for many months and is another example of extreme politics. Right wing partisans planted a suggestion that Obama was not a natural born citizen of the U.S., so he was not constitutionally qualified to be president. The president initially resisted calls for proof that he was born in the country, which served to fan the flames of doubt. Finally, Obama provided evidence and the whole issue should have been set aside. People like Donald Trump have been able to keep the issue alive based upon their notoriety and access to the media. And what is really sad is that some die-hards still believe Obama is not a citizen.
The amount of campaign money being spent on the current presidential election is expected to reach $2.5 billion. For all elections in November, the estimate is $5.8 billion. The fact is that the lion’s share of this money is being used to buy attack ads that began in earnest during the 1964 election. Lyndon Johnson’s people created the “daisy girl” ad that suggested that his opponent, Barry Goldwater, would start a nuclear war if elected. Today, every political hack tries to establish a super PAC to lambaste politicians that espouse opinions that they disagree with.
The problem is that these ads are fraught with lies and deception and foisted on a very vulnerable group of voters. Sadly, character assassination is very effective in today’s elections.
The irony is that so many of the most egregious offenders hide behind the skirts of the Constitution. Free speech and freedom of the press protect those who specialize in libeling others. Apparently, these rights are deemed more important than fair elections and honorable leaders.
Our presidential election is a travesty. Important issues are not discussed. Staying on point, not answering questions and attacking the character of opponents is the rule, not the exception. It is widely believed that the most nasty and underhanded campaigns will be victorious in November. The party that can solicit the most money to produce the most dirt will be rewarded.
The American press is culpable in this horrible process. It thrives on the filth and scandal in Washington and everywhere else in America. The press believes that it has an obligation to report this type of news. I say nonsense. Dirty laundry sells papers, and so investigative reporters seek out the most offensive stories. The media, TV, newspapers and blogs are all accomplices in a constant flow of sewerage.
What’s my solution to the problem? I have none. How can one voice or even a million voices speak against the rights afforded to us under the Constitution? I will just continue to hope that sensible and ethical people will win in the end. Don’t worry. I won’t hold my breath.