Negative campaigning is not new. Smear type campaigning apparently existed back in colonial times. Earliest newspaper headlines proclaimed scandal that didn't exist, or spread unfounded rumors disparaging office holders and office seekers of the time. But the overwhelming amount of negative political advertising has been ever increasing these past and current election periods. Is it ever going to come to an end, or at least lesser level? Have we reached a saturation point?
Negative election campaigning seems to be dominating our airwaves (and other avenues of transmission) as we close in on Election Day. Maybe it has to get worse before it gets better. Again, this election year we are being flooded with often misleading, even false advertising against good people who are running and offering to serve in elected office. Two prime examples are occurring in our Congressional races here in northern Minnesota.
The perfect politician does not exist. There aren't any. Too many people, saturated with superficial media information, decide and vote for or against a political candidate based only on their perception of some single position that the candidate is for or against. People in political office face countless decisions and are frequently damned if they do, and damned if they don't. No matter what their makeup, background or beliefs, they can't please all of the people all of the time, nor some of the people or even any single person all of the time. Let us get used to that simple fact.
It was gratifying to see the heavy turnout at the Labor Day picnic in Baxter on Monday. It was really good to see a large, diverse and happy crowd of all ages gathered at a group event. Like the State Fair, it was a welcome, positive exception to the downward trend in organized event attendance.
This column may not interest many of our readers. I say that because only a small fraction of Minnesota's eligible voters took the very minimal time and trouble to exercise their right and opportunity to vote in the Tuesday, Aug. 12, primary election. The primary election result was great support for our existing party endorsement system.
Next Tuesday is primary election day in Minnesota. We can be thankful that we live in a state and nation where we are free to vote as we choose without being in danger or subject to repercussion. Our free voting process is just one of the many blessings we can enjoy living in America. Some folks wanted to stay with our traditional September primary. Some wanted to change to June. So we ended up with August. Nevertheless, Tuesday, Aug. 12, is the day that the two major parties select their choices to go on to the general and final election on Nov. 4.
As a believer in our two-party system that has served this nation well, I hate to see what is happening to both the Republican Party and our DFL in Minnesota this summer. Our party endorsement systems are far from perfect, but both provide a process for interested citizens who take the time and trouble to actively participate not only to have impact, but also the opportunity to be viable candidates for office.
This week, we in Minnesota will be commemorating the most memorable life of former Congressman James Oberstar, who unexpectedly departed from this world the first week in May. He was known as Jim to the many who were fortunate enough to enjoy repeated communication. He remains with us as we look around the 8th District.
If everyone voted, we would have a better nation. When approximately half of our eligible voting population exercises its right to vote, even assuming straight two-party division, it means our government is determined by about one-fourth of its people. That is sad, particularly at this time of the year when we focus our memory and appreciation toward those who served and who have given so much to protect our country and its rights of free expression.
It is not a plus for our state government to now be spending much time on whether “charitable” gambling ought to be expanded in Minnesota. There are far more issues of pressing and real importance remaining to be dealt with in the closing days and hours of the 2014 legislative session. To this observer, we have a very mixed bag of gambling laws, rules and regulations, as created and motivated by the personal profit potential made possible under legalized gambling.