Mayan campaign mashup 2012: Lies lies lies lies

6 08 2012

I don’t care if Harry Reid lied.

And yes, I do believe he’s lying, if not about the conversation with a Bain adviser per se, then in propagating information which he likely knows isn’t true. Either way, I don’t care.

I should, though, shouldn’t I? Why let the political scientist in me rule over the citizen? After all, I don’t like lying in politics, and would prefer a clean and vigorous fight about policy and purpose over a cage match in which (metaphorically) gouging out one’s opponents eyes is considered the surest path to victory.

Also, I would like a pony.

Anyway, I let my analyst lead on a discussion at TNC’s place, repeating there what I have stated multiple times here: In electoral campaigns, all that matters is winning, and anything you do which helps you win is good, and anything you do which makes it more difficult to win is bad.

That’s it, that’s the full morality of electoral politics: Winning and everything associated with winning is good, losing and everything associated with losing is bad.

I and those who argued along similar lines got some pushback, with TNC saying he “didn’t really believe this” and others arguing that Democrats need to hold the line against demagoguery. One side held to the view that this is how electoral politics is (You run for President with the politics you have, not the politics you wish you had, as commenter WCBound put it) and the other that this is not how politics should be.

Along with the other amoralists, I took the hard line on this matter, defending lies and racism and swift-boating; in doing so we took the view of the analyst, or even of a campaign insider. Those who took the other side were standing on the ground of citizenship and, in terms of going after the lies, good journalism. Each side was right; neither side budged.

I as a citizen like to feel good about who I’m voting for, and thus am grateful that I have been able to pull the lever for two as-good-as-they-come politicians, Paul Wellstone and Russ Feingold. These men held to their principles—ran on their principles—and won election and re-election. Their integrity was the core of their campaigns, and had Feingold* tried to slide away from it, it’s not at all clear such sliding would have helped him in his losing bid for a third senatorial term.

(*Wellstone, of course, was killed in a plane crash while campaigning, and the man who stepped in to fill his candidacy, former Vice President Walter Mondale, another decent chap, lost to Norm Coleman.)

All that said, I’ll vote for the SOB who advocates for what I see as good policies over the decent candidate with horrible policies every time. Every damned time.

It would be great if more campaigns were built around integrity. It would be great if more journalists would press candidates on their views and their tactics. It would be great if the electorate rewarded clean campaigns and punished those who, by any standards other than those of electoral campaigning, “fought dirty”.

It would also be great if I got a pony.