Editorial: Beware the ugly political storm to come

By Ransom Cozzillio
February 8, 2012

(credit: MCT)

As every news outlet is constantly attesting, the Republican presidential primary is heating up.  In what is no doubt  a mild precursor to the highly anticipated 2012 presidential campaign and election, many of the long-standing fissures in the American political process are once again being born out. And many of the signs are not positive, regardless of your political compass.

If the current state of the primaries is any indication, this country may be in for one of the most hotly contested and vitriolic election seasons in memory. Already the mud slinging, accusations and attack ads have reached a disturbing fevered pitch. With members of the same party chomping at the bit to tear into each other, one wonders whether if there will be anything left (emotionally or otherwise) of the victor.

Naturally, hotly contested primaries and attack ads are nothing new. But what is happening now has a decidedly different feel to it. The 24-hour news cycle, the lack of a clear Republican frontrunner and the particular fervor with which they are clamoring to oust Obama has certainly lent power and legitimacy to this mud slinging. As has last year’s supreme court ruling that allows unlimited, private contributions to candidate supporting Political Action Committees and advertisement funding. This new influx of money has only fed the fire, with candidates and well-funded PACs burning through money in the hopes of burying the opposition under a mountain of dirty laundry.

This war of attrition has served not to the advantage of any one candidate or party, but rather, to the detriment of all those involved, the American people among them. When the fighting gets so messy that it threatens to drive voters away and confuses an already under-informed electorate, as it does now, the country suffers as a result. We at The Loquitur cannot approve of such a process as it stands now, regardless of the party or individuals responsible.

Surely the political process is a contest, and a high stakes one at that. Each candidate deserves an opportunity to cut their teeth and prove their mettle but this is turning into something else entirely. The acrimony with which attacks, often personal in nature, are being levied is bound to have consequences, intended or otherwise.

It is already clear that the rigor, scrutiny and toxicity today’s candidates face is weeding much needed moderation out of the contest entirely. If one is not dogmatic in their stances they will be susceptible to campaign ending criticism as a “flip-flop” or for “lacking principals.” At a time at which our country likely needs level-headedness, it is being pre-selected out of our voting options.

Furthermore, the ardency is having a dangerous rub-off effect on the electorate. We have already witnessed crowds, frenzied over the scrum, cheer the death penalty and loudly deride the Golden Rule. Clearly not the calls of even-keeled voting block.

That said, the onus is still partially on the voters of this country to both better understand the issues facing this country and to beware the type of election their vehemence is inviting.

We recognize, like Ben Franklin before us, that an informed electorate is the key to a healthy democracy. Often the voting public fails to properly and adequately realize that voting is a great power, and understanding the process and demands is vital to making their vote count positively toward the country’s future, regardless of race, creed or ideology.

Ultimately, we believe that this country should expect and hold a higher standard for the process we call politics and stand against the slide towards radicalism. The founding fathers, Washington and Madison chiefly among them, warned of the dangers inherent in the rise of political parties and the dangerous factionalism that can follow. The Loquitur implores all to consider this with election season fast approaching, we must not fear hoping and asking and knowing more.

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Ransom Cozzillio

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