The Rhetoric Is Down

Is it me, or do things seem calmer today than they did before the polls closed Tuesday? Sure the sun is shining and it’s unseasonably warm, but my inner peace is deeper. Maybe all that negative campaigning and hard nosed rhetoric took it’s toll on me (and others) outside the electoral process?

Can you listen to all shouting and name calling without getting ticked off? I don’t mean upset at the specific facts being spouted – just being put into a bad mood.

Is negativity catchy?

I noticed the change when I heard Nancy Pelosi and Howard Dean speak about conciliation. I heard it when President Bush held a press conference and seemed contrite. Two days ago, they all had fangs!

Someone asked the President:

Thank you, Mr. President. With all due respect, Nancy Pelosi has called you incompetent, a liar, the emperor with no clothes, and as recently as yesterday, dangerous. How will you work with someone who has such little respect for your leadership and who is third in line to the presidency?

THE PRESIDENT: Suzanne, I’ve been around politics a long time; I understand when campaigns end, and I know when governing begins. And I am going to work with people of both parties.

Look, people say unfortunate things at times. But if you hold grudges in this line of work, you’re never going to get anything done. And my intention is to get some things done. And as I said, I’m going to start visiting with her on Friday, with the idea of coming together.

He went on to say, “This isn’t — this isn’t my first rodeo.”

I’m sure it isn’t for him or many professional politicians on both sides of the partisan fence. Unfortunately, for us in Connecticut, bombarded by venom from both sides, it was a very new experience which went from zero to “oh my God” in an instant. We’ve never been close to this level of firepower.

I’m not sure ending the commercials is an instant fix. Are we all better, calmer, less hateful, now that the screaming on TV has stopped and Bob’s commercials are back (Bob – I really missed you)? Or, is there now a lower threshold for us? Will we now be more easily provoked?

Are we destined to live under the political equivalent of Post-traumatic Stress Disorder?

Politics About To Get Even Dirtier

During every recent election cycle there has been kvetching about how dirty politics has become. This, by the way, is a non-partisan dig. Both of our major political parties have been willing participants in mud related activities.

Sadly, negative advertising works in politics. It might work elsewhere, but we consider ourselves too sophisticated a society to put up with “Toyota sucks” commercials, paid for by GM.

As bad as it’s been, there’s been some restraint, mainly because those in charge have been ‘organizational’ people. You don’t get anywhere in any organization by being snippy and anti-social 100% of the time. People who fit in rise in organizations.

Now, the voice of politics might be the voice of bloggers&#185 – people who can stay home, by themselves, with none of the interpersonal requirements an office brings. Bring on the vitriol.

Here in Connecticut, Ned Lamont’s campaign for US Senate would be nowhere without the support of political bloggers. Howard Dean’s ill fated run for president was mounted on the backs of the blogging community. Dan Rather might still be anchoring the CBS Evening News, but for bloggers.

Adam Cohen, on this morning’s New York Times editorial page, talked about how computers and the Internet are making it possible for 15 year olds to swing elections. He was referring to this video, which has been viewed 30,000 times already (there are at least two versions on youtube.com). When was the last time you expressed your views to 30,000 strangers (and growing)?

Ava Lowery’s video was originally shown at the “YearlyKos,” the ‘political convention’ of liberal bloggers held last week in Las Vegas.

The cutting-edge discussions at YearlyKos were about the intersection of technology and politics. Bloggers sketched out their plans for shaping news in upcoming elections. The liberal political-action group Democracy for America gave a primer on turning online activism into offline activism, by developing networks of supporters and sending out “action alerts” to get them to contribute money and volunteer for campaigns and causes. The Participatory Culture Foundation, a nonprofit group, led a workshop on how ordinary people can make political videos and distribute them over the Internet.

We enter an era where partisans, with little restraint and powerful tools, will control the noise – if not the conversation. The technology seems to be an equal opportunity enabler (though Cohen felt the progressive wing of the Democratic Party would benefit most).

It would be a shame to think, as 2006 and then 2008’s political ads get going, what we’ve just been through were the good old days.

&#185 – Geoff, are you talking about yourself? To a certain extent, as this blog is primarily done while I’m by myself, with no outside consultation. There is no safety on my trigger, other than me.

Often I censor myself. That’s probably because of 35+ years of broadcasting live. Which bloggers have that experience?