An ugly, endless campaign needs a merciful pause

After Tuesday, the 1st District will finally have a congressman – even if he’s only a short-timer. We’ve been without representation in the U.S. House for more than four months, so that’s good news.

Even better news is that we may get a brief reprieve from an ugly campaign that has already worn out its welcome and still has another six months to go.

The tone of this campaign is a disgrace. Making it all the worse is the fact that the candidates have forced their way into our lives with greater intensity and ubiquity than any election in recent memory because of the huge sums of money being expended. Both national parties have poured hundreds of thousands of dollars into the campaign, money spent primarily on making mountains out of molehills and shoveling the dirt in our direction.

“I feel like I’m being hounded,” one voter told the Daily Journal last week, no doubt expressing the sentiments of thousands.

“They’re like two little boys,” said another about the ridiculous spitball attacks between the candidates.

This campaign is a textbook case about 1) why so many people are completely turned off by politics and 2) the increasing reluctance of good people to run for office because of the virtual certainty of facing out-of-control personal and political abuse.

This hasn’t been a fair fight based on principled differences. It’s been a contest to twist and distort, to search and destroy. It has thrown context out the window and flushed restraint down the toilet. It has showcased fear-mongering and simplistic pandering. It has intentionally deceived, or at least misled.

All of these elements, to one degree or another, have been present throughout the history of elections in this country. But money, technology and a cottage industry of highly paid political gamesmen have raised campaigns – or, more appropriately, lowered them – to a new level of offensiveness.

We get the kind of campaigns we deserve. They wouldn’t do it if it didn’t work.

Daily Journal
5/12/8