Last night marked the first debate between California gubernatorial candidates, Meg Whitman and Jerry Brown. Maybe it should be spelled goober-natorial after last night’s performances. When it comes to debates, there should one agreed upon rule: no talking about the opponent.
Last night’s production was the prototypical political encounter of the 21st century. Sure, the candidates want to explain their strengths but when the debate is over, the number one goal is to make sure the public realizes how bad a choice voting their opponent would be, i.e. it’s mandatory that when voters go to bed, they’re thinking that Big Bird would be a better choice than the person they’re running against.
Studies have shown that the majority of people vote against a candidate as opposed to for one. This strategy seems to have become more prevalent the past twenty or so years with the hiring of such wholesome individuals as Karl Rove and Paul Begala. After all, winning is what matters.
Meg Whitman, to date, has reportedly spent $120 million of her own money, much of it used to run negative ads against
Big Bird Jerry Brown. Don’t feel too sad. She’s a billionaire so it’s not like she has to worry about filling out the short form if she loses. What that number illustrates is that her idea of solving a problem is to throw money at it. If only she had enough herself to bail out California, she’d be the ideal candidate. Unfortunately, the state’s been so poorly run for so long, no one individual has that much cash.
Ol’ Jer was taking the high road until someone (no doubt his advisers) told him “that’s no way to run a campaign. That strategy might have won for you in the past but you’d better get with today. People want to hate candidates, not support them.” So the Brown camp trotted out Pinocchio and the pissing contest began in earnest
Although Whitman and Brown each said, albeit not very specifically, what they planned to do, the main themes of the night were that Brown squandered a major surplus the last time he was in charge and unemployment rose during his tenure. On the other hand, if anyone doesn’t know that the tax cuts Whitman is going to give “millionaires and billionaires” will deplete California’s $5 billion from budget, they were asleep during the show. What’s most depressing is that after watching the two of them rail against each other, it seems as though the nation’s largest state won’t be climbing out of the mess it’s currently in anytime soon.
Most of my life has been in the field of sports. As the years have gone by, only a fool wouldn’t have noticed there’s a whole lot more trash talking before and during games now than there was decades ago. The main difference between sports and politics is that in sports, independent of the trash talk, the winner is determined after the teams or individuals compete, while in politics, the winner is whoever is the better trash talker.
It seems more true than ever that:
“The word ‘politics’ is derived from the Latin - ‘poly’ meaning ‘many’ and ‘ticks’ meaning ‘bloodsucking parasites.’ “