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Campaigning from the gutter - where everyone’s a loser

Lee Walton

With extremely few exceptions, this election season’s local, statewide and national political campaigns have been the vilest, most vicious and fallacious in a recent memory. During the current campaign, new lows have been reached to which individual candidates, political parties and special interest groups will stoop to destroy the reputations, families and achievements of their opponents without regard for truth. Newspapers, mailings and the broadcast media are flooded with seemingly endless streams of negative political accusations as opposing candidates spiral ever downward in vicious cycles of attacks and counterattacks with little or no focus on the issues of interest to the electorate. The unprecedented deterioration of civility and common decency will likely leave most active campaign participants psychologically scarred and deeply polarized regardless of the outcomes on Tuesday, November 2nd.

Human nature being what it is, very few successful politicians in any political arena are now willing to turn the other cheek and forget the personal transgressions suffered at the hands of their opponents. Instinctively, even after a victory, the adrenalin levels and visceral urges to continue the attack are difficult for most to suppress. President Obama best exemplifies this post-victory retaliation syndrome. He seems as incapable of stopping his endless attacks on former President Bush and the Republican Party as he is in actually leading the nation out of the stagnate economy now paralyzing a meaningful recovery. Small wonder that elected legislative bodies on all levels of government have become polarized to the extent that legislative gridlock, infighting and subversive agendas rule over any altruistic efforts necessary for bipartisan resolution of the massive social and fiscal challenges facing all levels of government today. Our national leaders set the examples and norms for others to follow; it’s “trickle-down” governance from the White House to town halls across America.

For many frustrated would-be voters still compelled to do their civic duty, the choices this Tuesday will not be for the better candidates or even the lesser of two evils. In too many races, both choices have proven to be equally evil by publicly demonstrating their willingness to lie, cheat and slander to win at all cost. Why should we trust any of them? What kind of leaders will these would-be megalomaniac personalities make? Will there be some mystical transformation from immoral to moral as they take their oath of office? Will their personal civility and character be returned to them as a gilded badge of office?

This country deserves better, but we have only ourselves to blame. As the electorate, we tolerate and condone the shameful campaign tactics now pervasive throughout this nation. As long as we continue to elect the character and civility-deficient leaders now in power, political gridlock and polarization will continue as the predominant legislative results.

The only way to break the current negative campaign cycle is to seek out those candidates who debated the issues and successfully related their agenda for better government without losing their civility, dignity or character. It might be a very short list, but it’s a start.

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