By Paolo von Schirach
January 12, 2012
WASHINGTON – Alright, in case you missed it, would-be US president Mitt Romney is an unprincipled, calculating slime ball who will change opinion on key issues every hour, if that suits his political calculations. He has no soul and he does not believe in anything. Except that he does. In fact, he pretends to be a conservative; but he is a moderate, in truth a dangerous liberal. He says he is pro-life; but he consorts with the abortion crowd. He wants to nationalize health care and he did raise taxes as Massachusetts Governor. (In noting this, what is incredible is that in the 2008 campaign the very same Romney was recognized by all –left, right, media– to be the conservative in the race, challenging John McCain from the right. But no, now we are told by the other GOP contestants that he is an abominable liberal, disguised as a conservative).
Romney as vulture capitalist
But we are not done, yet. What gets the cake is that this turncoat, this wishy washy closet liberal, at night sheds his human mask and turns himself into a vulture capitalist, cruelly preying on poor unsuspecting victims. Yes, when Romney was in business at Bain, this all his investment company did. They bought corporations, stripped all the assets and then let them die, causing misery to so many families. This is how this horrible creature, (wait a minute, wasn’t he supposed to be a liberal?), made all his dirty money, Ladies and Gentlemen.
And the funny thing is that these tirades are not coming from anti-capitalist leftists. No, this is all from hard core GOP conservatives who piously argue that there is good, ethical capitalism that takes care of people and then there is the robber baron kind embraced by evil doer Romney. And this ridiculous and malicious junk passes for “political debate” in America, these days. I mentioned Romney as target here. But he has done exactly the same to former House Speaker Newt Gingrich in Iowa.
Going “negative” is alright
That said, what is even worse is that there now a general, if passive, acceptance that this scurrilous style of political campaigns is simply ”the way politics works in America”. Yes, of course, candidates “go negative” against one another, and this is what they produce. Nothing wrong with that. This is how the game is played.
Really? I think that it is awful. It is degrading for all who participate and for the American voters who should be supposedly enlightened by this manner of presenting positions and conducting a campaign. Imagine some innocent soul coming from a country that just got democracy and who thinks that America is the model to follow because it is still carrying on the tradition set by Jefferson and Franklin. He comes here to watch our electoral process, and he sees..this.
Of course you will never get real civility in politics. But, without infringing any first amendment protected rights of free expression, somebody should ask for higher standards. At this stage anything goes –literally. And all this is protected speech, therefore untouchable.
The media as enablers
Fine. No censorship in America. But it is sad is to see the media essentially fanning the flames. From their perspective, this stuff is outrageous, therefore juicy, and so let’s talk about it; let’s raise the volume and broadcast it as much as we can. Headline: “Gingrich accuses Romney at Bain of grossly unethical asset stripping practices”. Really? Is that a fact? Let’s have our panel discuss it.
Very few commentators will come forward and say publicly that this conduct is shameful and that a political contest such as the Republican primaries must be held with higher standards. No, on the contrary, commentators argue and debate as to how smart and how clever it is to ”go negative” and on what, based on the what the polls indicate to be the prevailing public sentiment. So, instead of advocating higher standards, the opinion leaders, the very people whose job is supposedly to shed light and create context for their TV audiences, are just enablers.
The American public accepts this
And the public? Well, the public accepts this. And this is also very sad. So, to put all this together, we have a national political campaign that is more and more about character assassination and ad hominen attacks based on distortions so huge that amount to total fabrications, and nobody protests. In all this, the bigger wallets tend to carry the day, because they have the power to buy more air time and thus endlessly blast opponents with whatever slime they have got.
What kind of democracy?
Somehow I think that, as a Nation, we could do better. Democracy is more than just securing the right of free speech. How the right to speak freely is used says a lot about what kind of democracy we like to have.