Mudslinging, the language of Politics in America, works
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It is no secret that politicians (your local politicians and your Representatives in Washington) have weathered criticisms about, dodged questions on and yes welcomed any contribution for campaign financing; what bogs the mind is the oxymoronic behavior of the American constituents. Over several decades, the American voters had made it crystal clear that they are disgusted by, turned off with mudslinging in politics, bashing of the opponents and no vision from the aspiring candidates; and yet, election in election out, they’ve proved beyond any reasonable doubt that they love mudslinging.
Politicians of all parties know it; that’s why they’ve raised and spent enormous amount of money “to beat the other guy” in mudslinging competition. Opensecrets provides a peek at the current state of affair in regards to campaign financing for the 2014 midterm elections. Voters are turned off by mudslinging but politicians go to great length to raise lots of cash to “over-mudsling” his opponent. It’s confusing, isn’t it? What exactly is going on? Why don’t voters just turn away from the mudslingers?
Contrary to their claims, voters have always enjoyed the election season for one peculiar reason, the very one they’ve claimed to be turned off by, mudslinging. Politicians have always exploited that; how do they know? Case in point:
Scenario 1: any candidate who “jumps into the campaign trail” promising to run a “clean campaign” would soon resort to “you guess it”, as his/her chances to be elected start to diminish.
Scenario 2: any candidate up for re-election despises looking bad in the polls, especially if s/he is challenged by a newcomer or a newbie; s/he would usually correct the situation by resorting to mudslinging. Within a few days of bashing his/her opponent, the prospect becomes good, very good and sometimes excellent.
This is not an assumption; there are plenty of examples to pick from during the 2014 midterms elections. One in particular is worth noted, Mitch McConnell vs Allison Grimes in the Kentucky Senate race. Mitch is a veteran politician, a fixture in Washington one might say; he’s been there as US Senator representing Kentucky since 1985 (yep! you read correctly, 1985). Prior to that, he was an intern (in Washington, where else) for Kentucky Senator John Sherman Cooper in 1964. Allison Grimes on the other hand is “a baby”; she was born on Nov 23, 1978, graduated from the Washington College of Law; she practiced law from 2004 to 2011 before running for the Kentucky office of Secretary of State in 2011.
Allison easily defeated – with just 60% of the votes- her Republican opponent, Bill Johnson. If history repeats itself, and it usually does, Mitch McConnell is currently savoring perhaps the last political fresh air of Washington, clearly a nightmare for his campaign. So, McConnell’s campaign resorts to what has always worked for him, mudslinging. This is not to say that Allison is a saint either, for her campaign has also been bashing McConnell non-stop.
Americans love a good fight, especially if accompanied with mudslinging, boring otherwise. Jerry Springer (born Gerald Norman in London, UK on February 13, 1944), 56th mayor of Cincinnati, OH (1977-1978), quickly realized he was wasting his time in politics (well, not quite; he tried several times thereafter); Jerry created the Jerry Springer show where “yelling, screaming, cursing, fist fights are the audience’s delight. With 23 seasons, 3,891 episodes (and counting) under his belt, Jerry proves that Americans are addicted to dirty fights. So, politicians make use of the tool that is most appealing to the constituents, mudslinging. So, the next time someone tells you how turned off s/he is with all the mudslinging, your answer should be: yeah, me too!
Follow Mike Ducheine on Twitter: @mducheiney