While I take great interest in our political system, I have to admit, nasty politics has me frustrated and weary.
Why can't we just stick to issue-based campaigns? Why is it necessary to try and destroy our opponent personally?
A reader forwarded me a parody of the popular comic strip "Wizard of Id." This long running newspaper strip, which has also been published in book form for fans of the series, is set in the days of castles, kings and peasants.
In the parody strip, one of the king's loyal servants is engaged in a pre-speech conversation with the king. In this parody, a cartoon Obama has replaced the king.
Here is the exchange:
Advisor: What are you offering the peasants in your election speech today?
Obama: Nothing they can afford to refuse.
Obama now goes out and delivers the speech.
Obama from his royal balcony: Elect me, and I promise you free health care!
Crowd: Yippee, yahoo, yip yip.
Obama: Free housing! Free clothing! Food Stamps!
Crowd: Yeah! Yippee.
Obama: And jobs for everybody.
Obama: Any questions? Yes?
Crowd person: What do we need jobs for?
Now that's not attacking Obama personally. It's not talking his wife, his daughters, his ears ... its talking administrative policy under the cover of editorial commentary. These types of political satire have been the center of political dialogue in newspapers, shows like "Saturday Night Live" and Comedy Central for years. It's fair, it's policy focused and it has been fired at both sides of the aisle.
Through the course of the Republican primary, we've watched candidates shred each other on stage. Sometimes on philosophical differences regarding the nation's most pressing issues. That's completely understood and acceptable.
When the attacks become personal, however, and teams are sent digging up the personal skeletons in their opponents closet, well I'm somewhat bothered by that.
I'm on board with the conventional wisdom that character matters. It does and it should. But can we make it relevant.
If we're talking about a 45- or 50-year-old candidate, do we really want to judge them now on the indiscretions of their teens or early 20s? I would sure hate for people to judge me now for some of the immature behaviors I exhibited as a high school and college age man.
Here's what I want to hear. I want to hear why I should vote for you. Tell me your plans once you're in office. Tell me your thoughts on current and future policy. Present me with facts that support you as the best candidate for office. That's what I want to hear.
Tell me why I should vote for you, not why I shouldn't vote for him. If you make the case for yourself well enough, there's really no reason to bring up any of the bad behavior from more than 30 years ago.
Let's have a clean presidential campaign and may the best man win.