Do you remember being a kid and your mom/Thumper gave you the sage advice of, “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all?” You’ve heard it, I’ve heard it, your Grandma’s dog has heard it, and yet somehow the GOP candidates must have been too busy stealing the other kids’ crayons to listen to this message.
Amongst the other US Gov. terms that I was forced-err I mean- excited to memorize for the AP test in high school, “mudslinging” was perhaps the easiest to wrap my head around. Mudslinging is defined as “the use of insults and accusations, especially unjust ones, with the aim of damaging the reputation of an opponent” (If you feel compelled to look it up yourself, stick to Merriam-Webster because Urban Dictionary gets it all wrong #scarred).
Anyone who persevered their way through the Republican debates this year knows that they were characterized more so by the flinging of insults than they were ideas about policy and platform. This is scary for many reasons, but mostly because of the fact that the information disseminated by the candidates themselves, general media, and political discourse in this country lacks a staggering amount of substance, and doesn’t give voters an understanding about their vision for the country. And if not political vision, what are people supposed to base their vote on? Obviously this is not the first presidential election where there are elements to the debates and political discourse that are not substantive, but in this particular election it has gotten out of hand.
Let me provide an accurate transcription* of the most recent debate to contextualize this for you:
Ted Cruz: I think that Planned Parenthood should be defunded.
Drumpf: Your mom** thinks Planned Parenthood should be defunded.
Cruz: Yes, you’re right she does.
Drumpf: Well you’re mom’s ugly! And who wants a candidate with an ugly mom?!
Drumpf: WE’RE GONNA BUILD A WALL!!!!!!!!!!
*This is completely inaccurate, I 100% made it up.
**No moms were harmed in the writing of this article.
Let’s summarize the most important takeaways from this experience:
- Drumpf wants to build a wall
- Literally nothing else
Now let’s reflect on what wasn’t said during this article that as a tax-paying citizen of this country I’d be curious to know:
- If Planned Parenthood doesn’t exist, where are women going to receive essential services including breast cancer screenings?
- Why are we building a wall, and what is the timeline?
- How does the wall fit into the overarching fiscal strategy for the country?
- Are you aware that the U.S. is the most incarcerated country in the world? What is your strategy to address mass incarceration of minorities and how scalable is this plan?
- What is the political strategy for racial and economic inequality in the country?
- Do you believe that Climate Change exists? (author’s note: smh that this is still a relevant question that we have to ask)
- What is your plan to improve (insert any of the critical and important challenges facing our country today that have absolutely nothing to do with the opponent’s mother, wife, image, etc. here).
Now this is not to say that the Democratic Party is free and clear. They own their fair share of defamation that distracts from the issues at hand, but the political discourse between GOP candidates this year has been particularly repulsive. And unfortunately, this is distracting from the substantive political issues. I’m not the first one to say it, and I certainly will not be the last, but the current political discourse is juvenile, nauseating, and a deflection from what is important.
It is critical that when we are discussing the candidates, we focus the discourse on their policy strategies for our country (and whether or not they even exist) rather than discussing their twitter interactions. I find it disappointing that news media is busier reporting on Trump’s Twitter account than his thoughts on relations with Russia- but I can’t control what is written by the Associated Press. I can, however, control what I discuss with my friends and peers and what I consider when I go to the polls, and I challenge you to do the same.