Common Sense: Gutter politics

As if the Presidential race for both parties had not already degraded into an embarrassment for our political system and America as a whole, we are now subjected to sophomoric barbs of he said/she said about the candidates’ wives and un-sourced tabloid hit pieces designed literally to destroy a candidate and his family.

I have been involved heavily in politics for almost 40 years, so I am quite aware that politics is a contact sport with people often getting hurt. And this level of discourse is not unprecedented in American politics.

What has changed is the availability for just about anything to go “viral” due to social media and the Internet. This has created strategies to take candidates down that had in the past not been employed simply because it was not a good use of a campaign’s time and resources. Morality has no role in campaign politics, I think we all have come to understand in this cycle.

Today, for just about no expense, a campaign can plant a story or manipulate a media source with essentially no effort involved. So they do it. Trump does it. Cruz does it. Hillary does it. Sanders does it. Some do it better than others.

The end result seems to be a field in which three of the leading candidates have incredibly high negatives — off-the-chart negatives. They are so high, in fact, that the American people appear to be in a lose/lose scenario come November.

Of course, I am not an innocent bystander. I follow politics not only through the normal sources, but on Twitter and Facebook as well as many political blog sites. I watch the blame game play itself out each night.

An independent Political Action Committee (if there really are any) attacks Melania Trump; Trump goes after Heidi Cruz in retaliation; Trump and Cruz directly respond to each other and it escalates. All of a sudden, an un-sourced tabloid piece creates a scandal around Cruz; Trump denies knowing anything, but is best friends with the tabloid’s owner who has endorsed him; suddenly, as this story is gaining traction, out of nowhere rumors start that people associated with Marco Rubio are behind it.

And this is all going on around the backdrop of the Brussels terrorist attacks. When the candidates could find the time to tear themselves away from the personal hits on each other and/or responding to tabloid scandals, they tried to out-do each other by coming up with responses that in themselves should make any thinking American cringe.

Trump talked about using tactical nuclear weapons. Really! I wonder how many Americans the fall-out from that would kill, not to mention how other nuclear powers would react to the U.S. employing such doomsday devices. And Trump is a leading candidate for president.

Cruz talked about carpet-bombing which was used during the Vietnam War, but is now, due to our ability to target, considered a war crime. I guess it sounded good. And he is an incumbent U.S. senator. Amazing.

Sanders is a socialist and could have done the advance work for Obama’s trip to Cuba.

Hillary, a former Secretary of State, is the scariest of all if only because she seems to offer absolutely no approach beyond the same failed policies and rhetoric that Obama has employed the past seven years. Her approach, which is essentially no new approach, is guaranteed to make things worse.

Americans need to fight back. One of the top three is very likely to become president. If you support a candidate such as Trump for whatever the reason, do not let him get away with an answer that seems off-the-wall simply because you believe he is only saying it to make a point but could not possibly mean it. Say something.

There is nothing wrong and everything right about criticizing your favorite candidate if you disagree with him or her. It called constructive criticism. The same goes for Cruz and Hillary. If somehow Sanders were to be elected, the country would be doomed, so I have no suggestions for his supporters.

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