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EDITORIAL: Goodbye confetti, hello mud
There’s something about a new year that can invigorate even the most cynical among us.
The idea of new possibilities is appealing. We may have had our share of difficulties in 2015 but give us a fresh slate and anything is possible.
Unfortunately, we don’t have a fresh slate of 2016 GOP presidential candidates.
Republican strategists close to the impending political melee that is political primary season say January is going to be The Month of the Attack Ad.
Isn’t January depressing enough?
By month’s end, The New York Times reported this week, “the (GOP) candidates and their allied groups could spend $100 million combined, much of it on negative advertising delivered via television, radio, mailers and digital spots.”
While much of the vitriol will appear to be aimed at opposing candidates, it’s fair to say it will really be aimed at the good voters of crucial primary states such as Iowa and New Hampshire. And Americans are going to be in the line of fire of that garbage on the radio, television and their computers.
If the public chooses to reward angry, negative, mud-flinging candidates with its time and attention, campaigns will just continue to spend tens of millions of dollars on negativity. It can’t be a good investment unless it works.
We need to change what we consume and start by turning away from the blood sport that is the political attack ad. And let’s face it, American audiences tuned into the GOP debates more to watch Donald Trump perform like a blustery barker at a sideshow than to understand how political debate can fuel positive, purposeful action.
As much as we like to say we prefer “good news” and good, kind behavior in our political candidates, ratings chasers and reality television stars like Donald Trump, who refers to the debates in terms of ratings rather than issues, know mud flinging equals ratings. So they oblige.
The Emmy-award winning HBO comedy “Veep” stars a very funny Julia Louis-Dreyfus as U.S. vice president, Selina Meyer. At one point, the Selina character makes a declaration about “real” American people whom her aides are evoking in the name of all that is good and patriotic. Her political entourage encourages the Veep to connect to “real people.”
“I’ve met some people,” Selina Meyer says, “some real people, and I gotta tell ya, a lot of them are (expletive deleted) idiots.”
OK, so that’s about as cynical as it comes. But shame on the public for consuming any carnival-grade entertainment that is paraded by in the name of democracy.
The real people of this country could soon earn that satirical reputation if audiences keep blindly consuming what they’re fed in order to be entertained by train wrecks – real or metaphorical.
If that’s what fuels this country, then Selina Meyer is right on the money – and the American people have gone terribly wrong, at best.
Our money says the people of this country are better than that.