Sunday, September 14, 2008

Dividing the Country

Or call it slinging mud, personal attacks or whatever. When it comes to campaigns it is almost second nature for candidates to 'attack' their opponent. Many people complain about the negativity of the campaigns and explain away their antipathy towards voting. The thing I find most interesting about this attitude is that many think its only in American politics. Or that people think that it's been getting worse. Obviously neither is correct.

Politics have been around since man formed tribes. Since the beginning it has been notorious for verbal and physical attacks. Nations have been torn apart by civil war simply because the wrong party won or lost the election.

America has been unique in the fact that elections don't lead to violence. We were one of the first nations to have a democratic process with two political parties and almost no violence. Parties who loss peacefully left office and the new party didn't go out of its way to in avenging themselves upon the losers.

People and voters would love to have an election without negativity. What is negativity in politics? Is defining the difference between your positions negative? Is stating that your policy is better than your opponents better? Is contrasting your experience versus your opponents negative? Is saying that your opponent is old and out of touch negative?

What I'm getting at is what we find negative in politics is what allows the candidates to define themselves. We need to see the contrast. We need to see the differences. If they were the same candidate, we wouldn't care who won. They are different and those differences need to be shown.

This does not divide the country. This does not lead to violence and civil war. So lets stop claiming that one party or the other is causing the country to be divided. That's politics. I heard a saying that politics is like opinions and that opinions are like your ass... everybody has one and it's always divided.

1 comment:

Li said...

The mudslinging only really bugs me if that's all they are doing. If a candidate is saying negative stuff about his opponent, he also needs to be saying positive things about himself. He wants us to think that his opponent sucks. We get it. What should we think about him? So far, I don't think this election has been as bad as last one in this department, but maybe I'm wrong. We still have the debates to watch.

*Note: the "He" and "him" in this are not referring to anyone specific. I've felt this way about every candidate in every election I've ever paid attention to.