Two little kids throwing mud pies at one another—that’s what this year’s presidential campaign feels like. I was wondering if my impression was accurate—that this campaign is worse than usual—when I came across an article on the Time website: Why Deceit Is Everywhere in the 2012 Campaign. Yup, the usual mud-slinging has escalated to a torrential flood.
Even though most Americans dislike negative ads, politicians use them because they work. But this year, both parties are twisting the truth to such an extent that they’re telling blatant lies.
A CBS article on the same topic states,
The campaigns and political “super PACS” are flooding the airwaves, and critics on both sides say facts don’t back up the charges made in the ads.
The claims in some of the ads have been so dubious, they’re making some people in both parties uncomfortable.
If you haven’t already heard them, you can read the articles to learn what the most recent spate of lies are about. It doesn’t really matter. There’s plenty of blame to go around, and odds are good that it will only get worse leading up to November.
What really bothers me is that, while “some people in both parties [are] uncomfortable” (finally!), no one really seems to care that it’s all lies. Even when everything is laid bare and the lies are exposed, no one acts embarrassed. No one apologizes. No one pulls the ads! There is no shame, and therefore no repentance, on the part of the candidates. And people support them anyway.
It’s as if our nation’s conscience is so jaded, being ethical is seen as an unreachable goal—so why even try? People choose candidates based on other things—which political party they belong to, or single issues such as abortion, but character is rarely an issue. I was reading one article discussing the importance of character in a candidate when a follow-up comment caught my attention:
Carter may well have been the most ethical [president] of late, and look how he’s regarded. Is there a lesson there? You might well have said that to get to the top of either party … one needs to be prepared to sell their soul. — John Cox
Of course, the only truly ethical person who has ever lived is Jesus. I know that no one is perfect. But there is certainly a huge difference between someone who is earnestly trying to live a Godly life and someone who doesn’t care.
Pete and I were discussing the situation over breakfast the other day, and I commented that our political system has degraded to the point where I doubted that a person who was unwilling to compromise their integrity could win the presidency.
He stopped mid-bite and looked at me. “No, I’m sure that… er, of course… wait… really? You think that?”
I could see the wheels going around as he sat and thought. And when he left for work a while later, he was still mulling it over.
So—what do you think? Can a campaign that strives to tell the truth get a person elected president? Is lying an essential part of the 21st century political machine? Does character matter?