It seems that performance is the key. It’s no longer about how they govern; it’s about how they look on television.
There was a time when being a Republican meant you were all about Big Business, while Democrats were viewed as Big Government backers. It was a simple difference, but easy for individuals to identify with and promote.
One party represented itself as the bloc promoting growth and prosperity. The other caucus was the protector of individual rights and freedom. But both were convinced that their beliefs and practices were best for the country. While there were understandable differences in philosophies, there was the common goal of maintaining a stable state of affairs.
Without a doubt, during the election cycles the differences were aired. The basic tenets of the other party were attacked as cruel and uncaring or simplistic and short-sighted. Candidates from both parties were vetted by their backers, but dark secrets were almost always uncovered by the opposition. As the fields narrowed, we had intelligent debates aired to allow the public an opportunity to understand the candidates’ views.
But the advent of the 24-hour news stations has changed us. The Internet and social media have given us not only quicker access to information, they have provided a more intimate look at how our leaders perform. And it seems that performance is the key. It’s no longer about how they govern; it’s about how they look on television.
Election cycles seem to start immediately following the swearing in ceremonies. Our elected officials aren’t about the party platform, they are more concerned with sound bites. We’ve long since abandoned the two leading candidates answering questions about current issues, we have to fill a stage with contenders who seek to gain a foothold by tearing down the other aspirants.
All of this has polarized us in a way that makes it difficult to move forward. Two entities pulling against one another in a continual struggle to influence those who disagree with their ideology.
It is time for all of us to recall Lincoln’s words, government of the people, by the people, and for the people.
See all of Steve Ashmore’s blogs.