I am in Despair
As I said in a recent blog, if you do not live in a state with competitive political races, count yourself as lucky, at least in the respect that you do not have to sit through the incredibly nasty commercials that we are seeing in Central Ohio both for the US Senate and House races but also for state offices. My morning paper confirms one of the reasons for this -- the Republicans are running scared and when this is true they run shockingly nasty political commercials that if not full of falsehoods, routinely, if not always shade the truth. To compound the problem, the Democrats have quit assuming that the people are too smart to fall for that tactic since we have proved over and over that we are not that smart, and they have run some pretty nasty ads themselves.
The Democratic ads on races for the Senate and House associate the Republicans with Bush and, when it is credible, with former Congressman Foley. The incumbent Republican House member from my district listed Foley as one of her closest friends in the House. Whoops! Does that make her into an ogre or an ineffective member of the House? No. But Democrats don't really care, just as Republicans don't care if their smears have anything to do with the suitability of the Democratic candidate, such as a locally infamous "Willie Horton" style association of a Democratic state senate candidate with a scary looking Black man even though the candidate has never had any dealings with this man whatsoever.
Our free alternative newspaper, The Other Paper, has a story on a Republican mudslinger who is working on behalf of Ohio state candidates who laments that he gets bashed not only by the opponents of the candidates he creates his mudslinging ads for but also gets bashed by the candidates themselves for creating these negative ads.
It seems that politicians just don't trust the American people to evaluate the relative merits of candidates in some rational way. Of course, no one wants to sit through a boring debate for a state senate seat and no one can learn much from a 30 second positive political ad. If the medium is TV and the time constraint is 30 seconds, the only rational thing to do is create an association of something negative (a scary looking Black man, for instance, or a male Congressman who likes young male pages) with one's opponent. It doesn't hurt to try to create positive associations with oneself as well. In fact, after running hosts of negative ads against her Democratic opponent, Congresswoman Deborah Pryce has gone a little bit positive.
If months of negative ads followed by a weekend of positive ads works with us, then we deserve the political campaigns we get. Just as we deserve the TV shows we get and movies we get. If we buy it, they will provide it, whatever "it" is. The American people who voted for Bush and are now pissed off at Bush ought to look in a mirror and curse themselves. They are the problem.
So, I am in such despair at our politics that I simply cannot work up much enthusiasm for blogging. Who we elect matters too much for us to sit idly by and not fight against the politicians who have given us Iraq and massive deficits. Accordingly, I will spend Monday and Tuesday trying to get out the vote for Democratic candidates. This is the first time I have been active politically since Clinton ran against the first Bush. Before that, it was when Johnson ran against Goldwater. No wonder I have gotten so many "leaders" I have no respect for. Over some 50 years in which I have been politically aware, I will have worked exactly 4 days for my candidates.
I shall conclude by noting that Deborah Pryce's opponent has just run a negative ad against her with Pryce depicted in an unflattering black and white picture (not a hard thing to come up with) and negative, albeit true claims in an effort to convince voters that Pryce will give us "the same old same old" followed by a color photo of a smiling Mary Jo Killroy combined with the claim that she will help change things in Washington. Hey, it works for me.