Thursday, November 4

Bullying *in* politics

I have to say that I'm in keep my head down, try to write mode. (Not for NaNoWriMo. No, I swear I have not started a new project for NaNo. And I definitely didn't get another new idea right on its heels and now I can't decide.... Okay so I did, but I am going back to my work in progress soon, I swear!) Because of this I have only been paying attention to two things in the news lately: the elections here in the United States and the continuing coverage of bullying, specifically of gay teens.

And these two things started to almost meld together in my mind. Why? Because of those awful commercials that Lauren posted about. I fast forward through since I never seem to watch TV live, but I also suck at fast forwarding so I seem to catch a few and I'm thoroughly convinced that the senator that won in my home state of Illinois, won largely because he was the biggest bully and that's not to say that the guy who lost didn't do his fair share of negative campaigning. According to the local news:

"More than a third of Illinois voters saw neither of the candidates as honest and trustworthy, according to preliminary exit polls. Fully half of the voters said each candidate attacked the other unfairly. Voters, tired of the negative campaigning, were generally doubtful that either candidate could pull Illinois out of its devastating financial mess."

I definitely fell into this group of voters. And I was sickened when the winning candidate used his acceptance speech as just another opportunity to knock his opponents rather than finally speaking to what he would actually do with the power he'd been handed.

Personally the headline I would have liked to see this week, even more than any particular candidate winning or proposition passing is:


Seriously, don't tell us what a screw-up the other guy is, tell us what you are going to do for us. And then instead of name-calling and bullying up on Capitol Hill, trying getting some actual work done for the people.

Sorry to vent, but as a writer, I really hate words being used out of context and politicians seem to be experts at misusing a word just because they know it will get a reaction.

When we hear nothing but inflammatory hate speech from the people who are supposed to be our leaders, are we truly that surprised when kids use it to push other kids over the brink?

Now, if you know me, you know I'm no censor. Making a law about what any can or can't say is not my cup of tea, but I just wish that the politicians would use a little common decency, that they would see that their negative campaigning only harms them. It makes voters doubt what they can do, probably because they haven't taken the time to tell us!

However, I'm sad to say that I think we have a better chance of legalizing marijuana than toning down hate speech in politics. But I love to daydream about how we could make a statement about it. Maybe next election, everyone should write in Sesame Street characters to show these politicians that we want leaders who know how to be kind and cooperate!

Who else has ideas about how to make this world a friendlier place?


Lauren Baratz-Logsted said...

Good post, Steph. I don't know what the answer is. I know this will make me sound old but just at lunch today I was discussing how the Internet has led to a sharp increase in incivility.

Wendy Toliver said...

Good thought-provoking post, Steph. I agree, negative campaigning is horrible and lame and needless. I remember studying them as part of one of my univeristy classes. We think they're bad now, but they've been at least this bad for a long, long time.
I think we are used to politicians behaving a certain (bully-like, pompous, unfaithful, lots-of-rhetoric-that-doesn't-mean-crap) way and we excuse them under the "well, they're politicians" umbrella.
I think another problem is most politicians don't write their own speeches or their own ads. They're like puppets who do whatever is desired by the people who are backing them with money.
I could go on and on, but I'm starting to stray from your question, and like Lauren, I don't know what the answer is.
It's good that we're asking these kinds of questions, though.