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Mudslinging

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September 13, 2011 by Annie McCormick

I do not argue politics or religion with people. I have my beliefs and opinions and will share those with someone who asks, but won’t argue my point. It doesn’t do any good anyway. I really dislike politics, especially in pre-election years. The misrepresentations, mudslinging, fear-mongering and, at times, outright lying disgusts me. This election seems worse than most.

Mudslinging and character assassination are not recent developments in presidential campaigns. When Andrew Jackson ran in 1824, it was discovered that he had married a woman that was not officially divorced. Her divorce was finalized and Jackson had to remarry her. His opponent, John Quincy Adams, did not escape cleanly. He was charged with pimping an American servant girl to the Czar of Russia.

Even the “Father of our Country” George Washington got splattered. Anti-Federalist newspapers called him a horse-beater, horse beater, a gambler, a tyrannical monster, a horrid swearer and blasphemer.

Rosemarie Ostler’s book, ”Slinging Mud: Rude Nicknames, Scurrilous Slogans, and Insulting Slang from Two Centuries of American Politics,” considers the practice in a historical context. For instance, the famous “you can put lipstick on a pig, but its still a pig” remark from the 2008 election. Ms. Ostler tells us that the phrase comes from an 1887 book of proverbs that contains: “A hog in a silk waistcoat is still a hog.” It wouldn’t have been the same if Palin had said “the main difference between a hockey mom and a pit bull is a waistcoat.”

Some of this seems silly and harmless, but in this election there are those who want to skew historic and scientific fact to further their agenda. One faction portrays President Obama as a socialist and a Nazi. In fact, the socialist reporters revealed Hitler in his true form. Hitler hated socialists. So, how can one be a socialist and a Nazi? Somehow these folks make it work for them. In my opinion socialism, by definition, would not work here. It would entail common ownership of property with decisions being made by a group of people in positions of authority. If the authorities followed the American tradition, the group would be made up of the wealthy and they would still reap the benefits.

I believe the stirring up of fear in American citizens is the worst. Politicians, pundits, radio show hosts and others seem to feed off of scaring the pants off of the public. Some of them would have had us believe that there would be no Social Security checks in August. The checks went out as usual. We all heard the dire warnings about Ebola, Swine flu, Bird flu, SARS and that flip-flops would make you lose your toes.
Obviously I am not a political scholar. All I have is a willingness to learn, life experience and knowledge of right and wrong. I believe in helping the less fortunate and promoting education. Children who are fed and have a place to live have a better chance of being educated and not falling prey to those who would attempt to control them by fear and untruths. As Francis Bacon said: “knowledge is power.”

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