There's an interesting thing that happens in every congressional election (House of Reps or Senate) as well as every time a congressmen runs for another office. It seems to me that in every election there is an increase in advertising which blames the candidate for voting either "for" or "against" a specific issue. For example, in Ohio Mike DeWine is running a series of ads, with the taunting, school yard refrain of "Sherrod Brown let us down", that say things like "Sherrod Brown voted against body armor for our troops ten times".
There are a lot of things that bother me about this approach but, chief among them is that the success of this advertising counts on the voting public having no idea how the United States congress works. If you're paying attention at all you know that bills in congress are never so simple as to be simply "for" or "against" any one thing. This is especially true of complex bills like those for military spending. It is offensive to me, and more than a little depressing, that this type of advertising is not only widely used but also seems to be extremely effective.
There is always more detail behind any vote in congress than the black and white world portrayed in these ads. This is the dreaded "nuance" that seems to be increasingly absent from political discourse. If you read back to the beginning of this blog, you'll know that I supported John Kerry for president and I will say now that I still think he would have made an excellent president. What really hurt him (other than the fact that the Republicans basically stole the election in Ohio, but more on that another time) was nuance. I had numerous conversations with people where they were unwilling to listen to any detailed analysis of Kerry or Bush or even to engage in a critical discussion of their stances on the issues. The opposition to John Kerry was entirely distilled to simple sound bites about swift boat veterans and Kerry being for the war before he was against it. The fact that it worked so well makes it even more reprehensible.
All I can say is that I hope people begin to pay more attention and be less willing to allow their politicians to boil complex issues down to meaningless slogans. As a nation, we should accept nothing less. When making your voting decisions this fall, take a little extra time to look into the details, the nuance, if you will, behind the candidates views. It's time we made our representatives understand that we are smarter than they've been giving us credit for and we are unwilling to accept their bull shit.
5 years ago