Fox News among many media outlets reported that the deadly shootings in Aurora caused President Obama and GOP Challenger Mitt Romney to suspend their usual campaign advertising and rhetoric.
“The deadly shootings at a movie theater in Colorado have briefly silenced the presidential campaign, prompting both President Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney to cut short their schedules and pull advertising in the state out of respect for the victims and their families.”
Not being a fan of the negative presidential campaigns, my take on the political cease fire is that it suggests the advertising campaigns in fact have nothing worth saying. In the face of real news and confronted by real life problems, having the campaigns go silent shows the rhetoric is pathetically (pathologically?) empty and devoid of any real content. If the campaigns can’t insult each other they are forced into remaining dumb.
I can’t even say the campaign rhetoric is drivel, for it is poisonous. But then, it is not novel for American political campaigns. Andrew J. Polsky mentions in his book Elusive Victories:The American Presidency at War that even in the midst of a civil war and the need for national unity American politics remained divisive and dirty.
“As Mark E. Neely Jr. observes, . . . Nor had American parties made a habit of cultivating moderation or political civility. ‘Carelessly pressing charges of treason and tyranny,” Neely comments, “was the way the system worked at election time and had for years.’” (Kindle Loc. 1146-50)
Apparently political campaigning in a democracy is part of civilization that lacks all civility. A democracy should allow and even benefit by serious policy disagreement. But in American national politics these days any disagreement immediately gets labeled as seditious, traitorous, stupid or evil. Such rhetoric discourages thoughtfulness or thinking and encourages bombastic name calling and abandonment of reason.
Ironically but not unexpectedly, while Fox News reported the two presidential candidates both called for national unity in the wake of the fatal shootings and temporarily stopped their divisive campaigning, it couldn’t resist taking the moment to stir the pot of partisan politics by the article’s then raising the speculation that the shootings would cause a renewal in contentious calls for gun control.
The media cannot stand a moment of political unity or calm, for that is not very self serving to those who are trying to sell the news. The media creates the news by constantly fueling the flames of polarizing and alarmist politics in order to seduce us to tune in to their reporting. Sadly, propagandizing is now often pawned off as news.
It might be more interesting if the media outlets stopped reporting on the campaigns until the candidates actually said something new or newsworthy rather than constantly reiterating their stump speeches.