What do I mean by hate politics? I do not mean to imply that one hates the realm of politics– although those people do exist; rather, I by “hate politics” I am referring to hate speeches and images of a political nature.
The gloves have come off and many constituents are coming out swinging– often through hate politics. One could argue that hate politics can yield positive results. The heated competition impassions people as well as engenders in them more concern for their country. Towing this line a bit further, we could speculate that as the coffee and smoke talks cater more toward presidential politics and passions rise, we might find more voters at the booths on November 4. However, the detrimental effects to hate politics out weight the positive elements.
In the end, engaging in hate politics is engaging in slandering the image of a future president of the United States. In addition — and more importantly — as people become more fired up over the candidates, their likelihood to vote may coincide with a decreased ability to make intelligent choices. In short: hate politics leads people to make mistakes.
Among the psychological studies on the anger and its relationship to cognitive processes, Kerstin Perbant’s work (University of Frankfurt) is but one of many that finds people’s abilities to recall past events and apply logic are diminished when unexpectedly provoked to anger. None of this is startling new to us. When we are angry, we make mistakes. Perhaps the last subject matter that deserves confusion and difficulty to apply logic is in choosing the next president of the United States of America.
*NOTE- Images below are extremely offensive. Viewer discretion is advised*
The images above are but a few examples of the character attacks ensuing– hate politics at its best, from constituents of both Parties. People engaged in this discourse seek to conflate identities, rob people of their humanity, and spread either likewise sentiments or shocking appall. Whether your are appalled or in agreement with the images, your emotions are elevated– unexpectedly.
Some Republicans and conservatives are turning to inflammatory language and character assassinations (aka swift-boating) on Barack Obama. Attempts have been made to equate Obama with terrorism – even Osama bin Laden, socialism, and anything else that would discredit him. Likewise Democrats and liberals have attacked Sarah Palin with sexist epithets, which hold no substantive values. It should not be long before we find attacks on John McCain for his age (ageism).
The key here is substance. So far, neither campaign is engaging heavily in this– and some of their constituents are doing no better.
Charles Babington of the Associated Press writes, October 6, 2008:
Brookings Institution political scientist Thomas E. Mann said he had felt for months that McCain “would eventually have to try to undermine Obama as an acceptable choice for president and commander in chief.” Key issues, he said, including “an economy in turmoil, an unpopular war and a politically discredited president are working powerfully against McCain and the Republican Party in general.”
Obama, meanwhile, has learned the lessons of Michael Dukakis and John Kerry. Those Democrats lost presidential elections after hesitating to counter hard-hitting and factually dubious attacks on their character and judgment. The shorthand terms for those attacks — “Willie Horton” and “Swiftboating” — have become a call-to-arms for Democratic activists who vow always to return fire with fire.
“We don’t throw the first punch, but we’ll throw the last,” Obama said Monday on Tom Joyner’s syndicated radio show.
Several Democrats said on Sunday talk shows that Obama’s campaign would revisit McCain’s long-ago involvement in the thrift scandal if the personal attacks on him continued. Within hours, the Obama campaign released a memo and Web video doing just that.
Obama and McCain have hit each other at personal levels before. But the vitriol increased dramatically Saturday, when Palin repeatedly raised Obama’s relationship with former 1960s radical Bill Ayers.
Obama, she said, was “palling around with terrorists who would target their own country.”
Ayers helped found the violent Weather Underground group, whose members were blamed for several bombings when Obama was 8. Obama has denounced Ayers’ radical views and activities.
The two men live near each other in Chicago, and once worked on the same charity board. Ayers hosted a small, meet-the-candidate event for Obama in 1995, at the start of his political career, but multiple news accounts have said they are not close. The campaign called Palin’s remarks outrageous and grossly exaggerated.
A 13-minute Web video Obama’s campaign released Monday revisits McCain’s ties to Charles Keating, a former friend, campaign contributor and savings and loan owner who was convicted of securities fraud in 1991.
As a senator, McCain participated in two meetings with banking regulators on Keating’s behalf. He became one of the “Keating Five” senators investigated by the Senate ethics committee. The panel cited McCain for a lesser role than others, but criticized his “poor judgment.”
McCain has since called his involvement with Keating “the worst mistake of my life.”
McCain and Obama say they are dredging up Ayers and Keating because the episodes shed light on each other’s current judgment — and because the other campaign is on the attack, though a McCain aide said the GOP campaign wanted to change the subject from the failing economy.
A few months ago, both candidates promised something better.
A week after introducing the character attacks, the McCain campaign officially abandoned their character attacks of Obama. Part of this was undoubtedly due to the lack of productivity. A Pew Research Study issued on October 15, 2008, showed that public opinion of Obama had not diminished, but had instead, grown slightly since the introduction of the character attacks. Nonetheless, the McCain campaign has continued their character attacks.
Sarah Jacob of NDTV.com writes, October 20, 2008:
John McCain and the Republican party is stepping up their character attacks on Barack Obama through television ads, the mail and now on the phone through what are called ‘Robo Calls’. The calls are part of a $70 million Republican campaign to get undecided supporters to vote for them.
The ‘Robo call’ is an automated message from the McCain campaign ‘Audio up Hello’.
“Hello. I’m calling for John McCain and the RNC because you need to know that Barack Obama has worked closely with domestic terrorist Bill Ayers, whose organization bombed the US Capitol, the Pentagon, a judge’s home and killed Americans,” the automated message says.
Character assassinations seek to strip candidates of their humanity (whether it be fatherhood, motherhood) in order to impair peoples’ ability to relate to them. Many of these recent attacks are coming from evangelical groups. Whether you are a liberal or a conservative, a Republican, Democrat, or Independent, the effects of engaging in hate crimes will be more harmful than good. Hate politics is painting an image of either a future U.S president who is “in bed with domestic terrorists and Osama bin Laden,” or a U.S president who is “in line with economic scandals,” with a highly insulted and debased vice president. And while we’re shooting off racial or sexist epithets, people’s anger and frustration rise– leading them to a more cloudy and unintelligent state. An excellent state to be in when they are at the voting booths, choosing their presidential selection.
The world is watching– and it remembers.