Politicians

How are Politicians Abusive?

by Del Hungerford

Every time the election season comes around, we “get” to watch and hear various political ads. I don’t know about you but I’m just about sick of political ads and never want to turn on the radio, computer or TV during any election. What about political ads makes us so angry? For me, it’s the way they attack each other and then when it’s all over, they are friends again. It’s as though they are saying, “we didn’t mean anything by what we said about you. Can we be friends now?” OK… not quite sure I’m buying that line.

I can’t help but believe that during the campaigns when all the mudslinging is going around, this type of behavior HAS to affect people. It’s almost like they are each searching the very depths of the bottom of the pit looking for dirt on various candidates. To make it worse, the media doesn’t help matters either. When presenting stories, they seem to revel in the fact that they found the perfect “dirt” on a candidate. The hosts analyze and then throw some of their own mud, all while smiling.

It’s easy to understand how politicians have to be thick-skinned but what are we actually learning from this? It appears perfectly acceptable to attack a candidate’s personality rather than the job they have done. Have you ever wondered why so many of our presidents have gone into office looking young and when they leave, they are completely gray? You hear people say things like “Wow… he’s sure aged!” Well, if you had to put up with the abuse they go through, you might gray quickly, too.

I understand that we need to hold our politicians to a high standard. After all, they are representing the public’s voice. My issue is HOW the candidates so easily sling mud at each other and think that’s perfectly acceptable behavior. It’s almost a game to determine who can find the most dirt on any given candidate. In my book, that’s verbal and emotional abuse. 

Now, calling this type of behavior for what it actually is (verbal and emotional abuse), it’s as though we are glorifying abusive behaviors between politicians. In other words, we’ve become desensitized to it. When we become desensitized to something, we don’t recognize it for what it is. It then becomes a part of our regular cycle of life where it no longer alarms us.

Here’s the problem… our politicians are modeling unhealthy behavior. Whether we like it or not, we model behaviors of those we let into our lives. This includes what we watch on TV and listen to. At first, things may shock us but the more we see and experience, the less we are affected. What can be done about this? Maybe if people wouldn’t put up with the mudslinging and demand that our political candidates respect one another, their abusive behavior would at least slow down. In reality, a person’s true character comes out loud and clear when they are under stress or put on the spot.

To add more food for thought…

  • How long will we continue to accept our political candidates trying to find the perfect dirt on each other? The purpose appears to make the opposing candidate look like he/she can’t do the job.
  • Are we willing to speak up to the media about treating others with dignity? Some of the reporters who interview people are so disrespectful. To them, it’s all about the story.
  • Realize that people are going to learn from what they see and hear. What behaviors would YOU like to see modeled so that the younger generations can learn to treat others properly?
  • Realize that the next time you hear a negative political ad, what you’re hearing is verbal abuse. There ARE methods of pointing out someone’s voting record without attacking the person. But, we can’t seem to figure out how to do that.

If anything is accomplished by this article, I hope it’s that you begin to see how verbal and emotional abuse are becoming acceptable practices in society. The more we become desensitized to it, the more it will become rampant.