The Ugly Side Of Politics Today

Rick Hamada
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Wednesday - September 15, 2010

I appreciate and understand the importance of political representation. It’s necessary in order to fulfill the vision of our founders to execute the tenets of a constitutionally based representative democracy.

But I don’t think the Founding Fathers could have anticipated that over a period of time we would see the political process devolve into a carnival that favors hucksterism and vitriol over civility and substance.

I don’t think it’s necessary to go through a litany of incidents that prove my point. We have all seen them.

The worst is the game of political gotcha where the deepest crevices of a candidate are plumbed by a team of “opposition researchers.”

These are the guys and gals who track down any mistake or indiscretion you may have made, any blemish on your record or even the last time you picked your nose in public.

In the minds of campaigns who utilize this tactic, perhaps they are doing the electorate a great service by dishing up information about an opponent’s night on the town during a bachelor party. Perhaps it’s essential to know that the opponent’s wife is battling prescription drug addiction or that an uncle once did business with a reputed mobster a lifetime-and-a-half ago.

You see, this is the bread and butter of many campaigns: Let’s see just how much embarrassing or compromising information can we find and how we can strategically use it to our advantage.

We all remember the Cec Heftel whisper campaign.

I am certain we recall Richard Nixon and his “dirty trick” squad of the early 1970s.

How about rumor mongering gone hay-wire when Dan Rather added “-gate” to his name with the handling of G.W.‘s military service memo?

There are countless examples of less than genteel politicking. But I would be remiss in not recognizing those politicos who do hold themselves and their supporters to a higher standard. There is zero tolerance for buffoonery and tactless tactics. Those candidates should be applauded for their adherence to and promotion of civil discourse and conduct that ultimately elevates a process that finds itself in the mud more often than not.

Am I pining for the day that candidates will square off in morning coats while sipping tea?

Of course not.

But is it really too much to ask that if you are going to spend an ungodly amount of money on political advertising, from concept to broadcast/print, it would just be nice to hear more about the celebration of your qualities rather than witnessing a scorched earth destruction of your opponent?

All I can say is your character will shine brighter when you take the proverbial high road.

Believe me, voters will notice and respond to the effort.

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