The midterm elections are nigh, and the TV ads and dirty mudslinging have already commenced.
What is mudslinging?
I took the time to get the exact definition which is as follows: "Mudslinging is the practice of making unscrupulous remarks and malicious attacks against an opponent, as in a political campaign." How long has this been going on? It seems that the art of mudslinging in this country seemed to really get started in 1800 during the election that pitted President John Adams against challenger Thomas Jefferson. This was real war, despite the fact that Jefferson and Adams were good friends and toward the end of both their lives resumed their friendship. But in 1800, Jefferson, so anxious to become president, said anything outrageous about his former friend, including calling him a "Grass Hypocrite who has neither the force and firmness of a man, nor the gentleness and sensibility of a woman."
Now, most mudslinging, as you know, is meant to change the voters' thoughts about a candidate, and most of the time they are outrageous and hardly resemble the real facts or truth. Sometimes, though, mudslinging hits the nail on the head. True facts will tend to embarrass the candidate. The result may mean loss of support and the election.
As recently as 1960, former president Harry Truman proclaimed that "If you vote for Nixon, you ought to go to hell." One mudslinger proclaimed that Abraham Lincoln should not be elected president because he only changed his socks once every 10 days. In 1876, opponents of Rutherford B. Hayes spread a rumor that he had shot his own mother in a fit of rage. That is mudslinging at its worst! In 1836, famous frontiersman and U.S. congressman Davy Crockett accused presidential candidate Martin Van Buren of secretly wearing women's clothing. Crockett proclaimed, "He is laced up in corsets."
As far as the 2010 elections, many things are coming out right now about politicians lying about their military service. I believe there are two in that predicament right now. Candidates are being accused of trying to get rid of Social Security and Medicare, practicing witchcraft and even hiring illegal, immigrate workers in their homes. Millions are being spent on ads discrediting candidates as a barrage of mudslinging hits the airwaves.
There are many debates scheduled in House, Senate and gubernatorial races in forthcoming elections across our land. Perhaps the debates alone can give the candidate a time to explain accusations and so-called lies to the person who is starting those terrible rumors of mud. It will also give the voter a chance to see up front about their candidate. The old refrain "Tell me it isn't so" with a good answer from the candidate can give the voter and supporter a big sigh of relief.
Some candidates are taking a big chance and gambling their election by spreading mud and accusations that are untrue. Their name can then be "mud" plus an election loss. We must remember also that a lot of people are so gullible and will believe most anything, including mud and accusations that are far-fetched. This is playing into the candidate's hands. Politicians are always in a desperate struggle to gain office or keep their office, and, with the pressure on, will say most anything to sway votes to them.
A constant reminder is that your vote is your choice. You have to decipher what ads seem unreal and not in the best interest of our country. The things that mean the most to you have to be your priority as to what a candidate says or doesn't say. Politicians all tend to promise most anything that, when elected, hardly ever is achieved. Your vote, though, is the most important thing for them, and they are willing to accept it.
Try to vote wisely and examine all the mudslinging thoroughly because with this election, there will be a mudslide of high proportions from both sides. Good luck.
(Some facts in this column were obtained from the blog Sparks from the Anvil.)