Saturday, June 12, 2004
After last week's primaries, there will be runoffs for those races that did not get majority winners. One of those races is for the Republican candidate for U.S. Senate, to fill the seat being vacated by the retiring Fritz Hollings. In that race, the runoff is between former Governor David Beasley and U.S. Congressman Jim DeMint.
Did I mention that I hate politics?
In the primary, I voted for DeMint. Of the six candidates on the Republican ticket, he seemed to be the one talking about the issues: not trying to hit the right religious right buttons with the Pledge of Allegiance and same-sex marriage, but addressing real issues like trade, anti-terrorism, building the economy. His only "downside" for me was an A-rating from the NRA (that can't be good, can it?), but I appreciated that there hadn't been any mudslinging against any of the other candidates. It had been a clean race, and I felt DeMint had been the "cleanest" of the participants. I like Beasley, but he had pushed those "vote for me because I'm Republican" buttons, so I went the other way.
I might be voting for Beasley in the runoff. I caught my first "negative" ad this morning, and I'm really perturbed that the perceived-best way to make your idea look good is to belittle the other guy's idea. DeMint has a new commercial calling Beasley a flip-flopper on "free trade" - "wishy-washy - no, flip-flopper - no, wishy-washy", as two old men argue in front of the mercantile. There's no talk about "free trade" versus "protectionism", no explanation of why he believes one way and his opponent believes another.
I feel like this: if your idea is worth its salt, it'll win out in the marketplace of public opinion. If you can explain what you mean, explain its shortcomings and its pluses, you'll be able to "win" if the idea itself is sound and pragmatic. But having to demonize the opposing view shows me - this is just me, and maybe I'm wrong - that you don't think your idea is all that good, is not good enough on the merits of its own strength, and probably not worth voting for in the first place. If the best thing you can say is, "my idea is different and better than his lousy idea", and that's all - you're not behind that thing like you should be. And even if it's the best idea going, you're not the one to pursue it.
So I might vote for Beasley... or I might not. I'll be the lousy flip-flopper, if that means doing my best to vote with some portion of my integrity intact.