We seem, as a people, to be in a state of perpetual political devolution; current national, state and local campaigns, unfortunately, bear that premise out. We have watched the national stage which has been dominated by Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, each of whom is very skilled at setting opponents up for the proverbial slaughter at the hands of the ever-inquisitive press. Slanted truths, half-truths and outright lies are the tools of the trade today in politics. The campaign run without using such ‘tools’ is hard to find likely because it would be unsuccessful going up against other campaigns. Ted Cruz is now trying to move beyond a National Enquirer story about his fidelity, or lack thereof, to his wife. Trump denies anything to do with the story, but we wonder, don’t we? After all, that is “Lyin Ted” we’re talking about isn’t it?
We see similar political tools at work on the state level. This skill set appears a requirement for involvement in politics above the local and county levels. Fortunately, the use of this devastating tool has not surfaced often in local politics but it has, occasionally, reared its ugly head even at this level. Milwaukee’s mayoral race is an example of a borderline race moving in this direction. Our state Supreme Court race is threatening to move further in this direction.
As each new political season arrives, I wonder how much our society will devolve during its course. The electronic linkage we enjoy today makes for almost instantaneous targeting by one candidate of another candidate. The act does not have to be performed by the attacking candidate; any number of surrogate ‘hangers on’ are only too willing to engage in these acts to permit their chosen candidate to hide behind them with the “I know nothing about this” statement.
I still remember earlier political times when this kind of fallacious attack was not used. Instead, the candidate, him or herself, would deftly place his or her opponent in a delicate position while maintaining plausible personal deniability. Those were what we now fondly refer to as “the good old days”. It is difficult to imagine how much more degradation of our political discourse will have to occur for this period to someday be referred to as “the good old days” by another blogger.
What passes for political discourse seems unbefitting of a modern Christian democracy, and yet we hold no feet to the fire in any meaningful way. We go “cluck, cluck” and then move on. That only perpetuates the downward spiral; and some, maybe too many, of us, are apparently willing participants who enjoy mud wrestling too much to cause it to be put to an end.