Candidates with specific aims deserve funding, not aginners
At the end of a bitter election season, do you know in detail what any of the candidates you supported actually aimed to accomplish in office, or how?
If you do, you’re far ahead of me. I heard few positives. What I read and heard over and over was how dangerous it would be if the opponents should win.
In fact, if we believed the rhetoric, virtually everyone who won at every level Tuesday is going to send us directly to hell. Of course, the same was true of virtually everyone who lost, because campaign mudslinging was widespread. Those who took the high road were few indeed.
I know it’s very possible for horrid candidates to run, people every bit as bad as the worse campaign ads claimed. But their numbers are far fewer than the rhetoric would have you believe.
The vast majority of candidates for office are actually decent people who got into politics for good, valid reasons and who try to the limits of their abilities to achieve the right things. Mostly, they’re honest and well-meaning. And that’s a very good starting point.
That doesn’t mean that they necessarily think the way we do, have the aims for their time in office that we find best or have the brains, energy and backbone to succeed. It does mean that they are fit to run for office and for us to choose who should win.
But that’s not what we heard in the campaigns. If we believe the campaigning, every opponent is the hangman. Beware, the wolf is at the door! Guard your babies!
So why did mostly decent candidates that you would welcome as neighbors run such negative campaigns? It must be that they thought tarring an opponent would win more votes than would laying out their own attributes. Maybe they’re taking cues from political stage directors who say if it works in Washington, it should play well in Miami.
So what we have running for office in both parties become packs of aginners – an old slang word for people who are against everything and everyone and have no positive program of their own to offer.
That’s what politics is becoming, with those who finally win office splitting into armed camps to oppose what the other side wants, while the other side is arming itself to oppose them as well.
The chief weapon seems to be the political label. I won’t list the labels for you. In national politics at the highest level you hear them all the time.
Unfortunately, besides being nasty, labels are both misleading and imprecise. Instead of arguing against specifics with facts, labels are so much more convenient, but also so vague as to become meaningless. Rather than labeling someone a crook, please lay out the specific case and instance in detail – if you can. If not, it’s just two 10-year-olds arguing in the school yard.
Politics has become a good-or-evil dichotomy with no middle ground. The aim of each candidate as communicated to voters seems to be to keep the other guy or gal, the evil one, out of office.
It’s time to rebel. Voters need to demand of our candidates that they spend a whole lot more time telling us who they are, where they stand and what they plan to accomplish – specifics, please – than they spend bashing opponents.
Voters should be offered qualifications, track records and aims of one side against qualifications, track records and aims of the other side. Let’s vote in favor of someone we want rather than against the more evil of two candidates.
A candidate’s detailed background, record in volunteer or government activities and aims in office may seem dull. But that’s what we should evaluate.
How do we guide the path of political discourse back to a high road where we can choose among good candidates rather than try to exclude the worst?
Political donors hold the key. Unfortunately, most candidates can best hear a few voters who come with cash in hand. Their funds seem to amplify their voices.
To those donors, do you think that negativism in campaigning should be the price of running for office and playing on the political stage? Is that negative candidate the person you really want in office?
What if your donations came with strong admonitions that you will only fund the high road?
Would you ask your candidates to list, publicize and support three highly specific positive changes that they not only favor but will work for in office, and ask them to explain fully how they will achieve them?
If a candidate has no specifics to accomplish, what is the true reason for running? Is it personal power or after-office outside income or something even worse?
If they don’t have any positive aims, dear donor, why should you spend your own hard-earned money to fund that campaign?
If you demand and achieve a campaign where your candidate runs on a track record and a very focused series of specifics to achieve coupled with the game plan to achieve them, then you have helped pull political discourse back from the edge of a dangerous precipice. Your money will be well spent no matter who wins the election. The only losers will be the aginners.
I am Michael Lewis and I approve this message. So should you.