If We Could Tune Out, We Would, but …

… most of us will still vote.

David Rothkopf gets it exactly right:

But of course, this is one dust-up that will never end. Because in modern politics it seems the goal is to constantly find ways to smear the opposition, facts and decency be damned. That’s the reason the birther lie endures. That’s the reason that John Kerry, whose military service was distinguished, could be besmirched by the “swift boaters” and a host of political opponents who hadn’t anything like his record of service. And because both sides do it to one another, it is considered to be fair play.

Only in politics can what’s clearly foul be fair.

Support his policies or oppose them, no one is for one minutesuggesting that Mitt Romney did anything other than obey the tax laws of the United States. The reason that Democrats want to see the tax returns is not because they think he did something wrong but because he did something that might look unseemly. Like he was a rich guy taking advantage of loopholes. That virtually anyone in his position would do so is irrelevant. It’s all about the smear….

I have voted Democrat all my life. I served in the Clinton administration and worked for a Democratic congressman on Capitol Hill. I will vote for President Obama. But I deplore these tactics….

These are great issues calling for serious debate. And we actually have two candidates for president who are credible, serious men. But they are running a campaign that has the sensibilities and IQ of a typical middle school student council election. With the values of an episode of “Real Housewives” or “Big Brother.”

Apparently, the candidates and their advisers think that is what will work with us. They think we don’t see the big problems, care about them or understand them. They think that throwing mud and unsubstantiated claims and getting bogged down in distractions will tip the scales in their favor.

So the sad punch line to all this pettiness is that in a campaign laden with name calling, the biggest insult of all is the one that is being directed at the American people.

About Scot McKnight

Scot McKnight is a recognized authority on the New Testament, early Christianity, and the historical Jesus. McKnight, author of more than fifty books, is the Professor of New Testament at Northern Seminary in Lombard, IL.

  • EricW

    Because it’s obvious that getting heavily involved in politics causes people to engage in or endorse and support the worst behavior by themselves or on their behalf and/or for their benefit, behavior that can indeed darken or damn their souls if not repented of or stopped, it might be best not to vote for any of these persons, as to do so is to encourage and abet their continued participation in what will be ultimately be to their eternal destruction.

  • James Rednour

    I tore up the mail-in ballot delivered to my home. I’m done encouraging these people with my participation in the “process”. It is irrelevant who is president anyway. Obama still endorses the darkest parts of the Bush administration (renditiion, assassinations and internment of people without due process). Why anyone supports either of these dark-hearted men is beyond me.

  • James Rednour

    And I hate to say it, but Mencken was right: “Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard.”

  • http://paroikos.com Rob Ely

    I agree with this post. Sadly, the mud slinging does work. Which says more about the hearts of the American people than the candidates. We need to pray!

  • Brent

    They wouldn’t do it if it didn’t work. Unfortunately, enough of us fall for the lies and mischaracterizations to make it worth their while–and their conscience.

  • PJ Anderson

    Politics is evidence of the decay of American society. I’ll have nothing to do with it. Neither party can help us; they only betray us.

    I’ve given up listening (even to my beloved NPR) to any radio until December. At this point asceticism is becoming highly appealing.

  • MatthewS

    I have a new perspective on voting after teaching a class for a couple semesters at both a medium security and a maximum security prison. There is an entire bloc of people to whom nobody panders because they have no vote and it is a powerless feeling to be in their shoes.

    People complain about the electoral college but if it weren’t for that, there is a big chunk of flyover country that would functionally be a bloc without a vote as well.

    I mean no disrespect to those who feel differently and who pull back out of the process. From my vantage point, it seems better to consider how to encourage a better process. I think part of what we are seeing is the result of what Postman feared, that an entertaining clip of video has mostly replaced facts that matter and meaningful debate for the electorate.

    (btw, that quote in comment #3 is laugh out loud funny, but sad, too)

  • Bill McReynolds

    Obama wants Romney’s tax returns so they can make a commercial pertaining to every line. And, as for Kerry’s distinguished service in Vietnam, PLEASE!

  • http://www.chezman86.blogspot.com Kevin Chez

    I would disagree that President Obama is credible. Look at how he won his campaigns in Chicago. Going deep into people’s personal lives. He said he would be above the fray. He is not.

    He is clearly a politician and has become a multi-millionaire as a politician. So many put there hope and faith in him that he would change things especially the dialogue that is discussed above. He has only maintained status quo if not made things worse.

    I don’t expect Romney to make things less hostile but I haven’t heard him state he is going to do that. It’s going to be a very interesting 3 months.

  • http://LostCodex.com DRT

    MatthewS,

    Don’t worry, those fly over states more than make up for their lack of power in presidential politics by getting 2 senators each. That is the biggest crime around.

  • tony springer

    We condemn the liars, but what is the Christian response to those who believe the lie, even in the face of the truth?

  • phil_style

    I’m not sure what my point is here.. but…the slagging war is most hostile at the bottom of the political ladder and it actually becomes more polite as you the closer to the top. Just read the vitriol that gets written online in forums and by small time bloggers. Listen to what gets said on local talk-back radio!

    The discourse coming from the political elite (i.e. the president and challenging candidates and their close allies) is actually much less disgraceful that the discourse at the common/popular level.

  • Gary Lyn

    I don’t completely buy the argument that the campaigns do this because it works. Both sides do it every campaign. One side wins, the other side does not. So it “works” for one side but doesn’t “work” for the other. It seems to me that these types of campaigns are designed to inflame the passions of those who already support one candidate or another.

  • T

    I agree with the post and several comments including Phil style.

    That said I thought Senator Reid deserved the flack he got from the left and right about his suggestion about Romney paying no taxes at all.

    Bill and others, the reason that Romney’s returns are relevant is that our fiscal crisis amidst economic problems makes tax changes a serious and difficult issue. If any of Romney’s returns show him paying a lower rate of tax than his multiple middle class employees (which is almost certainly the case) then Romney will be exhibit “A” for the argument that our income tax system needs to be amended to prevent that, especially when faced with the fiscal challenges at hand.

  • Fish

    As admin of a church facebook page, the anti-Obama vitriol I see among our ‘friends’ makes me want to walk away from it. It outweighs the anti-Romney stuff at least 10 to 1. And much of it is out and out lies.

    Regardless of who they are for or against, I think Christians are a huge part of the mud-slinging problem, and I’m not sure why.

  • Barb

    Fish,
    are you saying that people are posting negative political stuff on a church FB page? If I were a pastor (I’m not) of a church that did that I would have the FB page shut down.


CLOSE | X

HIDE | X