This voter dizzy from all the spinning
It’s finally Election Day, and I don’t know about you but I am ready to vote and move on.
It’s a curious thing, this whole election process. We love that our country, our democracy, you know, the good ol’ USA, stands for freedom – freedom to vote for whomever and whatever we want. That’s good.
But how we get from the love of freedom to the muck of wildly spinning campaign rhetoric is frightening.
I’m not telling you anything new. I’ve heard from more than one person that this election seems particularly full of mud-slinging, and I would tend to agree. As a reporter for this very newspaper, I’m up close and personal with many of the amendments and candidates appearing on the ballot. That’s good because, as a journalist, I have to put my opinionated self to one side and see issues and candidates objectively, at face value. What’s bad is that the more I learn, the more I realize that an effective corps of spin doctors can make just about anyone running in this election look like a bumbling, conniving idiot or a supernatural savior of righteousness. It just depends on your perspective.
Take, for example, the U.S. Senate race between Republican Wayne Allard and Democrat Tom Strickland. The pro-Allard camp praises and actually advertises the fact that Allard is a veterinarian. After all, any cat, dog, horse or duck owner has got to love and trust an animal doctor.
But anti-Allard folks see the good doctor’s profession as a liability. They portray Allard as a Colorado veterinarian who took the wrong bus and ended up in front of the U.S. Capitol.
Spin this scenario 180 degrees and you’ve got Tom Strickland. He’s already at a bit of a disadvantage because lawyers have been getting a bum rap for centuries. (Even Shakespeare managed some jabs at attorneys of yore.)
But Strickland supporters see his background in law as an asset in the Senate, since many other political leaders have also been attorneys. If your job deals with legislative issues, they say, it seems like it would be a good idea to understand how law works.
Recently, I interviewed Pete Mattivi, a 97-year-old who holds the record for New Castle mayor and Garfield County commissioner (obviously before term limits became an issue). I asked him if he had any advice for today’s candidates, and he told me, essentially, that they needed to stop slinging mud at each other. “Don’t put the other guy down,” he said.
Obviously, during this election, hardly anyone is paying heed to Pete’s warnings. Attacks are coming from both sides, and boy are they muddy. Any sane, healthy voter would have to be crazy to vote in favor of a candidate who wants to destroy our water, raise our taxes needlessly, take away our ability to defend ourselves or buddy around with scummy CEOs. But pick your side and the spinners can take a couple facts – or not! – and twist them around and voila! You’ve got a clear choice. Right? No. Never.
Instead of campaign reform, I think we need campaign objectivity. How about this? Let’s set a new requirement. All campaign workers – from campaign managers to political advisors to speech writers to sign wavers – must be completely devoid of party affiliation or opinion of any kind. What we could hope to get would be straight-on, 100 percent factual, accurate pictures of who and what we’re voting for or against.
Where are you, Mr. Spock? Want a career in politics?
Post Independent staff writer Carrie Click’s column runs on Tuesdays.
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