It seems a vicious cycle.
One party, usually the Republican Party, stoops to a new low in campaigning. The people validate the maneuver because negative ads, argumentative fallacies, and outright lies are much more entertaining than boring policy details. Now it’s on the market. The other party must play along, or else get waxed yet again. And that’s when voters start complaining.
It’s been this way at least since Atwater.
Who remembers 2004?
With John Kerry on the Democratic ticket, a pack of angry conservatives who showed up for basically any election he was involved in unleashed their fury on the nation, denouncing him as having received combat awards he did not deserve. It got so bad that a man named Paul Galanti denounced truth as un-American. But the ringleader, named Larry Thurlow, swore up and down that he had eyes on Kerry and the future Massachusetts senator and U.S. Secretary of State did not do what the reports earning his medals said he did.
One of Kerry’s awards was for pulling a man out of the drink under fire. This is an ironic setup, of course, because life provides great punch lines.
Larry Thurlow himself received awards for that day.
And there was a third medal. Eventually a reporter figured out who received it and obtained the relevant reports.
That medal was for pulling Larry Thurlow out of the drink, while under fire.
You would think that would pretty much end the fake scandal. Except it didn’t.
The accusations continued to erode Kerry’s credibility, despite the fact of being untrue.
So the question is: In a competitive marketplace, why would what works not be adopted by competitors?
So every time Americans reward that kind of vice with votes, they are simply setting themselves up for more viciousness.
And then they complain about the wretched state of our politics.
There seems to be a contradiction in that outcome.
It is almost as if we are enacting a modern variation on the ancient scapegoat ritual, and elect politicians specifically to complain about them. And while that might seem an entertaining sport of some kind, it also has real, living consequences.
Wuerker, Matt. “Poli Sci”. Daily Kos. 6 November 2014.