It’s not a revelatory observation that negativity abounds in today’s political climate.
That trend may be most visible in the ill-advised tweets from our current president. However, it’s neither limited to the highest office in the land nor his political party.
The following are some news release subject lines from emails sent to us recently from the offices of politicians and/or related organizations:
• “Assembly Democrats Choose Party Loyalty over Quality Long-Term Care for Seniors.”
• “Republicans Continue to Neglect Homeless Wisconsinites.”
• “Wisconsin Democrats Reek of Debt & Desperation.”
• “Wisconsin Students and Homeowners Abandoned by GOP.”
• “The Democrats’ Job Eliminating Climate Agenda.”
• “Republicans Vote to Legalize Discrimination.”
In other words, let’s not talk about what our candidate or cause is bringing to the table to help solve a problem; let’s discuss what the other side is not doing or their malevolent reasoning. Putting the subject line in all caps — writing’s version of yelling — often adds to the vitriol.
This approach rarely is productive or informative. It’s also often inaccurate. We’ve come across few, if any, Democrats who take a hard line against jobs and quality long-term care for seniors. Few, if any, Republicans we know are steadfast in their efforts to “abandon” students and homeowners or “neglect” the homeless.
• • •
The current culture is not us versus them; it’s us versus us. That has to change. The following are some email subject lines we’ve received of which we’d like to see more:
• “Senate Unanimously Passes ... Bipartisan Bill to Support the Health and Wellbeing of Family Caregivers.”
• “Legislators Request Public Hearing for Non-partisan Redistricting Reform Legislation.”
• “AG Kaul Joins 39 States in Bipartisan, Multistate Investigation of JUUL Labs.”
“Bipartisan” and “nonpartisan” are welcome, though rarely used, terms in today’s political realm. The issues on which we disagree make the news, while the many topics on which we agree get little play.
Unfortunately, negativity sells, especially in politics.
“Negative political ads are not a negative,” wrote Dane Strother, a partner in Strother Nuckels Strategies and a Democratic strategist, in “The Hill.” “Indeed, negative ads are a positive for our democracy.
“Information is key to making an educated decision, be it how to vote or where to eat. A candidate clearly won’t point out his or her foibles and deficiencies, so an opponent must.”
Maybe. But it’s up to us to weed out the rhetoric and hyperbole.
“Every campaign wrestles with where the sweet spot is between positive and negative information,” Strother wrote. “But ultimately, the voter decides.”
As the elections hit their stride, we’ll be inundated with divisive “news” and advertising. As such, it will be increasingly important to remember that we all sit next to each other at the movies, work, church, and cultural and athletic events. We often share common interests, goals and dreams.
There are plenty of real enemies in this world without relegating our neighbors to that group. As Americans, we have more in common than we have differences. The tone of political discourse these days can make it hard to remember that.
— Liam Marlaire, assistant editor