The Great Political Berate
Throughout the history of our country, there have been some very negative political campaigns. These campaigns focused on the depravity of the individual running for office, not the political issues of the time.
The Election of 1800, between Thomas Jefferson and John Adams, was considered the worst election in our history. The various campaigns were personal based, focusing on the affair Jefferson had with Sally Hemings, one of Jefferson’s slaves. “Mr. Jefferson’s Congo Harem” was a catchphrase used in various 1800 campaigns centering on his earlier misdeeds. Jefferson was also accused of being an atheist by the phrase “who insults yourself and your Bible!” as a campaign against him. Is the personal life of a candidate always an indication as to how they will govern?
In recent years, the negativity that takes place in political elections continues, whether the campaign is for a particular person running for an office or a ballot measure. For example, during the 2016 presidential campaign we heard a candidate running for president being described as “Crooked Hillary.” During the current midterms, an ad is focusing on the criminal charges of a particular candidate. Why is there a lesser focus on the important issues that are not being debated? Why have the candidates not inform the general population as to how they will handle issues such as inflation, abortion, or homelessness?
Recently, 5,074 Americans participated in a poll that was created to find out the most pressing issues Americans are facing. The poll was produced by the Pew Research Center. Inflation led the list. Seventy percent of the respondents said that they felt this to be their most pressing issue. Health care came in second at 55%, violent crime (54%), gun violence and the budget deficit (51%), climate change (42%), quality of public schools (39%), immigration (38%), racism (35%) and infrastructure (30%). While some of the candidates’ ads are tackling the issue of homelessness and abortion, why are a majority of the ads focusing on their opponent’s credibility?
The focus should be on what are those that are running for office are proposing to do to fix these issues. Not, why are they attacking their opponent and not coming up with solutions to the problems Americans deem to be important to the country? Are we looking at political elections the same way ASB elections in high schools are held where the most popular student usually won?
Americans need to get past this current “Reality TV” world and focus on the concerns that will make a difference in their lives and the country’s. Seeing the world through the lens of a particular person or a social media platform can be considered to be insular. We need to see and feel what is good for the country as a whole, not just a particular group.
Politicians need to express their plans for change. If we agree with them then vote for them. They need to keep their petty biases among themselves. The press’s job is to investigate the character of a candidate; it is then the press’s responsibility to provide that information to the public. A candidate should not make ads espousing the character of their opponent.
These changes could make voting a more important part of American life then it is today. We need leadership, not vilification.