My wife and I raised three sons. Our youngest is 13 years younger than his older two brothers. The older two are less than 11 months apart. So the older two, at times, didn’t exactly get along. On those occasions when one son would call the other a nasty name we would separate them and send them to their rooms. Silly parents we were, if one son called the other a “loser”, a “con-artist”, or a “liar” he may have just been practicing to run for President of the United States.
But seriously, the nasty tone of this presidential election cycle is disturbing for several reasons. First, while we all want a strong president, we want a president to be respected. Calling your opponent a name that would have caused me to take away my kids’ Atari does nothing to garner the respect of the voters or the respect of world leaders .
Second, name calling is simply an attempt to cover the fact that one has nothing to say. “Vote for me because my opponent is a slug.” What this does is reduce the voter’s choice to the lowest common denominator; vote for the better “slug”. This is a total disrespect for the voters and the political process.
Lastly, running for public office is very emotionally draining. Petty name calling and dirty campaigning is the reason many qualified people will not run for public office. And who wants to put their family through the nightmare of being publicly called derogatory names like Trump did to Jeb Bush? Running a campaign that only mentions your opponent’s name says nothing about what you will do or how you will do it. We need people with extraordinary talents to lead us through difficult times. Dirty campaigning and petty name calling often keeps extraordinary people out of public service.
Nastiness is not needed if you are a strong leader. Reagan never called his opponents “losers”. JFK never called Nixon a “con-artist” and Abraham Lincoln never suggested that Stephen Douglas had “wet his pants”. C'mon people, clean up your act. Don’t make us stop the car and come back there.
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C. David Warren is a retired Athens County prosecutor after being elected to three terms to serve the post and is a member of The Messenger's Board of Contributors.