The current campaign season is one of the most toxic I can remember in my 55 years of paying attention. This has not happened over-night. Campaigns at all levels have been slowly becoming more negative for at least the past decade. However, since 2014, it appears candidates are in a competition not to win the election but rather to see who or which party can sling the most mud and create the widest gap between themselves and facts. Combined with the extreme negative impact of partisanship on our society, this is not healthy for our country, our state, our counties, or our cities. If this is allowed to continue, will we damage our political process beyond repair?
I’d like to borrow a song title penned by John Lennon; “Imagine”.
Imagine if voters were not perceived as gullible by those sponsoring campaign ads
Imagine if voters did not “buy” what campaigns, PAC’s and Super PAC’s were currently “selling”
Imagine if media and journalists were unbiased and “reported” rather than present opinion and commentary as fact
Imagine if fact-checking was not necessary
Imagine if truth and personal integrity were the cornerstones of how candidates were judged
Imagine country, state, county, city, and all constituents, not political party, being the most important consideration of all candidates and elected officials
Imagine if voters had facts readily available on which to base decisions
Imagine if candidates could move beyond talking-points
Imagine if candidates stressed what they would do, change, and improve instead of what their opponent(s) did or will do wrong
Imagine if campaigns, candidate debates, and the act of governing were respectful discussions of the issues despite differences of opinion
Imagine if voters cast their ballot for who they believed was the most qualified not on the perception of the lesser of evils
Imagine if lawmakers were not afraid to collaborate with members of the other party
But looking through rose-colored glasses does not reveal reality.
We have evolved (?) into a society:
Where partisanship divides us more than any other issue
Where respect for opinions that are different from our own has nearly disappeared
Where differing opinions spark feelings of hate and even calls for violence
Where many journalists are no longer reporters but rather commentators issuing opinion presented and accepted as fact
Where the decision to publish by media appears to be based on sales potential not added value to factual discussion
Where emotion allows bent truth and lies to be accepted as fact
Where talking points built on our emotion is all we use to base our decision without questioning
Where our votes are against the opposing candidate not really for the candidate we support
Where lawmakers are fearful or outright refuse to collaborate with the other party
It has not always been like this. We’ve had presidents able to work with a divided congress. We’ve had state legislatures able to work through partisan differences. We’ve had campaign seasons where respectful discussion of the issues provided voters with the ability to make informed decisions. We’ve had journalists and media who reported facts and labeled commentary and opinion as such.
Rose-colored glasses can be turned in to clear ones. It will take hard work, determination, and the willingness to make tough decisions by lawmakers and candidates. It will take voters willing to stand up and demand facts, clear discussion of the issues, and stop “buying” the current rhetoric.
In just over four months, the Nevada legislature can take steps to change rose-colored to clear by continuing the work on election reform started during the 2015 session. By re-introducing and enacting the Nevada Election Modernization and Reform Act for 2017 (NEMRA – 2017), the groundwork will be laid. You can make your voice heard by signing the petition to legislative leaders here.