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VALLEY VIEWPOINT: Campaign propaganda: Enough already

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Is there anyone out there who is as sick and tired of campaign propaganda as I am? Am I the only one who reads and listens to campaign speeches, fliers, letters, slogans, and billboards and want to throw up? Do the perpetrators of this garbage think I have the intelligence of a turnip? Do they really believe that I can’t see through their tactics of playing on people’s fear? Am I the only reader who can spot stereotyping a mile away or do other people recognize propaganda when they read it?

I recently received two fliers in the mail from the Republican National Committee that are riddled with fear mongering, stereotyping, and untruths. They portray such an evil and menacing picture it made me truly wonder what and who are they talking about? It didn’t mention either candidate for our upcoming Special Election. All it did was imply that if you are a “Montana Conservative” (whatever that means) and you don’t vote “conservative” then the world as we know it will end.

The flier declared that if you vote for the Montana Democratic candidate, you are actually voting for Nancy Pelosi and Washington DC. Huh? Doesn’t anyone else but me see the irony in such a characterization? Here is the National Republican Committee, a Washington D.C. based organization, spending a boatload of money on a Montana election telling Montanans if they vote for the Democratic candidate they are voting for Washington D.C. outside influence. What a contradiction.

The recent Presidential campaign and now our special election are showing all of us how exceptionally low campaigning has become. I believe the Republican Party has been successful in winning political influence throughout all levels of government by effectively using overly simplistic rhetoric, fear mongering and propaganda. Now everyone believes the only way anyone can get elected is to sling mud to reach the top. Both parties have now gotten very good at this game. We the people end up being the losers.

What happened to discussing issues intelligently and admitting that there is more than one way to solve a problem? Why is it wrong to acknowledge that decisions made on public policy and spending public money are neither good nor bad but that they reflect differing priorities, approaches, and values? Whether a policy is “good” depends on whether or not it actually fixes the problem. However, a problem can’t be fixed if it is never fully understood. Understanding all sides of an issue by everyone involved is the only way we can hope to effectively solve problems in a democracy.

Unfortunately, in our current party system, solving issues intelligently doesn’t have a chance when both sides resort to only using value laden words to label an issue; like “job killing” regulations; “out of touch” Washington DC; “liberal elites”; “burden” of an unfair tax system; “wasteful” spending; “government run” healthcare; “over” regulation is “strangling” our economy; left wing allies “taking away” our voice; “DC liberals” from the East Coast.

Such words and phrases are not helpful. They only increase polarization. What I find incredibly maddening is that this type of propaganda actually works. Otherwise we wouldn’t be spending billions of dollars on it. It’s also incredibly sad. What does it say about us as a nation when we collectively allow this to happen? Must this become the standard that we are obligated to use to be elected to public office? I don’t think so. Come on America. We do better.

– Margaret Gorski, Stevensville


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