Author: Benjamin DeLuca
With each successive presidential election in this country, the road to election day becomes easier to predict and less exciting to follow. In an interview Friday on “Live! With Kelly and Michael,” Mitt Romney got the chance to talk about a hard-hitting issue relevant to all voters following this election: Snooki. The caliber of political discussion during election season has diminished so much that “Obama vs. Romney” is essentially a popularity contest. Something in this process has to change.
The best place to start is with us, the citizens. Each new day brings a bombardment of one-liners, snappy slogans and negative ads encouraging us to like one candidate more or the other less. We share and manipulate ill-defined policy pronouncements: Mitt Romney refuses to give a detailed account of his economic plan other than shredding the social safety net and “closing loopholes in the tax system.” Gaffes, goofs, candidate missteps and the occasional outrageous remark (here’s lookin’ at you, Todd Akin) envelop political conversation. We latch onto Twitter updates, 30-second television spots, and interviews where candidates regurgitate whatever watchwords some pollster has decided will win over an important group of voters.
Do politicians expect so little from their constituents that they communicate so little substance? More importantly, have we become so apathetic that we allow our elected officials to get away with this behavior? We may be treated as if we don’t acknowledge substantive discussion, especially before an election; but I believe citizens are capable of demanding that perennial issues be consistently debated with the nation’s future on the line.
Whether or not a person is a Democrat, a Republican or a registered voter, each of us has a duty to demand more from our public servants. Let’s demand substantive debates on all the country’s most important policy issues, and a cessation of the back-and-forth retorts that account for far too much of the candidates’ public speaking time and media presence. Every sentence, every word, every inflection one candidate says, gets turned back on the candidate in a withering salvo of attack ads. ”You didn’t build that,” a small part of a speech by President Obama, was radically taken out of context and turned into one of the central themes of the Romney 2012 campaign.
Politicians are not without fault. It seems the most recent political candidates have definitively concluded that they could use a combination of character attacks and catchphrases to defeat their opponents, rather than win the support of the American voters with an impassioned defense of their political beliefs.
But we can raise the level of discourse in this election to the point where every voter can make an informed and substantive decision in the voting booth – only if we refuse to be content with the current state of public debate in this country. Let’s see more accountability amongst our politicians so we know who we’re voting for, not who we’re voting against. Hopefully then, perhaps, this country will see a golden age of social and political dialogue. No matter who you vote for in November, or if you vote at all, let’s give debate a fighting chance.
Ben DeLuca is a junior ECLS major. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This article has been archived, for more requests please contact us via the support system.