Tucson CitizenTucson Citizen

Politics of personal destruction – there has to be a better way to get elected

Tuesday is primary election day. It can’t come soon enough.

The sooner we get the primary over with, the sooner we can get the general over with and put this season of ad hominem behind us.

Our politics have always been rough and tumble but lately it seems like candidates for office are more intent on destroying the character of their opponents than convincing voters of the quality of their own, even when the opponent is a member of their own party.

Normally, brutal, mud-slinging character assassinations are reserved for the other party’s nominee.

No longer, especially in the Arizona Republican party.

Arizona Republicans have been running their campaigns like they’re a collection of prison gangs, all of them trying to shove shivs into the backs of their rivals.

Consider the shameful race for the Republican nomination for Attorney General. Andrew Thomas and Tom Horne practically came to blows during a televised debate in Phoenix last month. They’ve called each other names, said the other is unfit to be a lawyer, assaulted each other’s character, ethics and morals and acted like a couple of bratty teen agers running for class president at a school for incorrigibles.

Pick a contested Republican primary and you’ll likely find Republicans behaving badly.

In the GOP primary for Congressional District 8 the candidates have begun fighting over military records and ties to lobbyists and government payouts. In the state race for Legislative District 26 they’re arguing over whether a Republican is really a Republican. In the GOP race for U.S. Senate, they’re fighting over flip flops and flim flams.

The strange incongruity of the state’s GOP, though, is that on Aug. 25, the prison gangs will stop fighting, wipe the blood off each other and pretend none of it ever happened so that they can unite to go after their true enemy – the Democrats.

Not that the Democrats are any better. Most of the Democratic primaries are uncontested but in one notable exception, the race for U.S. Senate, the candidates have been slinging mud, with most of it is directed at the front-runner, Rodney Glassman, who, to his credit, has yet to respond in kind.

As we’ve seen in other races across the country, the Democrats are old hands at fighting dirty and come Aug. 25, they’ll start honing their own long knives for a fight with the Republicans. We’re already seeing that in state Attorney General Terry Goddard trying to blame Gov. Jan Brewer for the Kingman prison escape last month.

The horrible truth about all of this is that the candidates are not to blame for this sordid behavior – we are. Candidates and parties have ample data that show character assassination works. We reward this behavior not by voting for the mudslinger but by voting against the mud covered. It’s a race to the bottom and we’re all the losers because of it.

We need a new system, one that rewards the brightest candidates with the best ideas for making our cities, states and nation better.

I’m stumped.

Any ideas?

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