Sunday, October 12, 2008

Toning down the trash talk

Generally speaking when people are engaged in public trash talk, it's on a football field or basketball court. These days it has spilled over into our national election and, frankly, I'm sick to death of it.

It's one thing for the candidates for any office, and most especially for president of the United States, to disagree, sometimes vehemently, with an opponent on the issues. If everyone agreed with everyone else on every strategy for the country, there'd be no need for an election. What I'm fed up with is the trash talk that goes beyond character and straight to character assassination. These are the nasty innuendoes and outright lies tossed around by a candidate designed to whip the public into a frenzy and feed into their worst fears. You know exactly the ones I mean:

* The deliberate use at too many rallies of Barack Obama's middle name -- Hussein -- not as a simple fact, but strictly because it raises the sceptre of Iraq's Saddam Hussein and encourages all the biases that go along with it.

* Tossing out Obama's "relationship" with a '60s protestor and deliberately describing the man as a terrorist, because it stirs all those fears that lie deep in our hearts since September 11. Now if Barack Obama and this man had been conducting protests, bombings or anything else side by side in the '60s, this would certainly be a legitimate character issue. The truth, however, is that Obama was only eight back then, and in the years since Obama has been acquainted with this man, he is a respected college professor and part of the Chicago political establishment.

Apparently this week even Senator John McCain realized that perhaps he was feeding the hysteria of misconceptions. A decent man by all reports, he belatedly tried to quell the outrageous rhetoric at his rallies...and was booed by his own supporters. Frankly, this scares the living daylights out of me.

It is way past time to tone down this kind of trash talk and stick to the issues that matter to everyone of us who live on Main Street, who have dwindling savings thanks to the financial crisis, who are scared about our jobs, who are dealing with aging parents who need prescriptions and kids who're ready for college.

We need leaders who understand that any candidate running for the highest office in the land should be treated respectfully and with dignity. One of them will be in office in November and it is the duty of the other one to make the rest of us be at peace with that. Fostering fear and hatred isn't the way to unite a country. It's the lowest way to lead us down a very slippery slope.

Stick to the facts. Discuss your plans. Give us hope. Is that so complicated for a politician to grasp?

Sherryl Woods

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