Caroline Albanese

Mud Slinging Leads to Election Exhaustion

In Academic Writing on September 12, 2012 at 10:41 pm

In Mitt Romney’s latest speech to rally up his troops for the November elections, he claims that President Obama is “intellectually exhausted, out of Ideas, and out of Energy.” Pointing to the fact that a majority of the Obama/Biden campaign is running on the ground that Obama’s social changes are in motion, and he’ll need four more years to get them to be effective.

Though a striking blow, Romney’s campaign doesn’t seem as progressive either, as his tax reform ideas involves cutting funding to many resources, such a medicare, medicaid, and various other social goods. With neither of the candidates really “looking forwards” could it be said that this is an election based on “should’ve, would’ve, could’ve” arguments, instead of a “should, will, have” agenda?


In Peter Baker’s New York Times article “Candidates Racing for Future, Gaze Fixed Firmly on the Past,” he discusses how neither campaigns are offering dramatic declarations.


“At a time when the country faces an uncertain future economically and internationally,” said Baker in his piece. “The conversation in the capital and on the campaign trail has dwelled largely on the past as the two contenders for the White House and their allies spend their time and energy relitigating old fights rather than focusing on new ideas for the next four years.

With dirty campaigns aimed at the other, it feels at if this campaign is becoming less about the issues – such as the economy, job creation, clean energy and the personal finances of the american population – and more about the candidates themselves.  A trend that Baker notices himself.

“With federal debt rising, the economy sputtering and partisan divisions polarizing the capital, there is less room or appetite for the sorts of sweeping initiatives offered by previous presidents and challengers.”


But is that really the best way to win this election – by dividing an already incredibly polarizing country? Obama won the 2008 on his “Hope and Change” platform, which energized the country, connecting them and motivating them to go out and vote for a change they believed in. A change, many thing, is too slow coming to keep their hopes up.


In a NPR article from last spring titled “Six Reasons We’re Feeling Debate Fatigue,” writer Linton Weeks described why they believe the overexposure of political candidates leave voters feeling over informed, and not motivated to vote. The most interesting being that in this election there has been an emphasis on the personality of the politicians and not the  policies they want to enact.

With so many slam tactics from the Romney campaign calling the Obama team “sinking to a new low” for using the term “chained” to African American voters, to the Obama camp calling out Romney for his tax returns, it feels as if all we’re hearing is about how one guy is worst than the other guy. It’s getting to the point where when we actually take the time to go through policies, people are actually surprised that Obama’s health care bill was modeled after the health care reform taken place in Massachusetts, under Romney’s jurisdiction.  
If there was focus on the policies, then there would be more people wondering why Romney suddenly went against his own ideals, instead of wondering if he was a nice boss at Bane Captial.
With voters mislead, it seems that both candidates are instead playing up the “he said, she said” act, like bickering siblings to their mother. The problem being with this tactic is that  the American voters are to act like their  mothers and they’re tired of their squabbling.
“There are no easy choices to make looking forward,” said John Feehery, a longtime Republican strategist, in Baker’s piece. “So both campaigns are probably more comfortable relitigating the past.”
While drama can sell tabloids and make people care about celebrity romances, it’s not the same thing in politics. Hearing the two men who the American public are supposed to represent and lead our country forward is incredibly hard to do when they’re constantly nitpicking on the other’s mistakes. It’s alienating voters, not because they don’t want what’s best for their county, but because they don’t want to play referee with their votes – they want help in improving their country.
Maybe when the two boys are tired of slinging mud at each other they’ll come inside and tell us what their policies are for the next four years, until then they can stay outside in dirt.
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