Pin It
Favorite

Tone Deaf 

Nice try, but partisan rhetoric isn't going away.

click to enlarge art16109.jpg

In the wake of the tragedy in Tucson this month, we’ve been hearing a lot about how the tone of our political debate needs to change. Now, just a couple weeks later, the debate over how we debate has made us perhaps even more divided than ever.

No, the tone’s not going anywhere.

Let’s face it, the tone — divisive, nasty and dishonest as it often is — works. The tone is motivating people to write checks to fill campaign war chests, the tone is driving cable news ratings and the tone is getting people elected. We, the voters, actually respond to the tone — many of us hate who they tell us to hate, and we vote according to a finely tuned set of primal cues, delivered in 30-second TV sound bites.

The tone is working — for politicians locally and nationally. But is it working for America?

Among other things, the tone tells us that we can have the greatest nation on earth without paying for it. As the tone has kept us obsessed over our differences, changes that have crippled the middle class have slipped under the radar. The tone squashes any whiff of a challenge to authority some times; other times it attacks and undermines authority. The only consistent driving force behind the tone is that it be self-serving. It’s not much help in times of crisis like these.

Still, individual voters can condemn the tone, one by one, when they vote. The only way the tone will change is if it stops getting people elected. Here are a few of the issues I look at as I attempt to referee the game and dole out unsportsmanlike-tone penalties.

We’re all in this together, aren’t we? I try to gauge where a particular candidate’s loyalty lies. Is it what’s best for the nation, or does his or her political party come first?

(Lack of) internal consistency. When politicians change their opinions on a dime, depending on who they are attacking or defending, you should wonder if there are any actual convictions in there.

Going dark-side. The harsher, more divisive and more personal campaign rhetoric a candidate chooses to employ, the less I tend to trust them.

America has always relied on a spirited debate to inform wise decisions for the common good. But when that spirited debate mutates into a monster, it only serves its masters.

The fact is, the tone can change — but only if we change.

  • Pin It

Speaking of Common Ground, politics

  • Ugly Breakup
  • Ugly Breakup

    The long-running rift between the mayor and the city council president just got worse
    • Jun 9, 2016
  • Beggs for a Solution
  • Beggs for a Solution

    In the three months Breean Beggs has been on the council, he's pitched out-of-the-box ideas for some of the city's stickiest problems
    • Jun 2, 2016
  • Rush To Judgment
  • Rush To Judgment

    A complaint against council assistant Richard Rush tests the council's ability to handle HR concerns — but was Rush's firing fair?
    • May 12, 2016
  • More »

Latest in Comment

  • Fat Cats
  • Fat Cats

    What Larry the Cat and our Congress have in common
    • Jul 21, 2016
  • Comparison Shopping
  • Comparison Shopping

    Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are both candidates for president; that's where the similarities end
    • Jul 21, 2016
  • The Party of Pot
  • The Party of Pot

    Trail Mix: Party platforms and death of the "Never Trumps"
    • Jul 21, 2016
  • More »

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Today | Wed | Thu | Fri | Sat | Sun | Mon
Spokane Artist Trading Card Swap

Spokane Artist Trading Card Swap @ Boots Bakery & Lounge

Last Wednesday of every month

All of today's events | Staff Picks

More by Ted S. McGregor Jr.

Most Commented On

  • Lane Ends Ahead

    Spokane wants to improve a mile-long section of Monroe — but that means taking away two lanes
    • Jul 7, 2016
  • Too Smart for School

    What happens when a 12-year-old prodigy tries to go to college in Spokane?
    • Jun 30, 2016
  • More »

Top Tags in
News & Comment

green zone


marijuana


Briefs


election 2016


trail mix


Readers also liked…

  • A Persistent Life
  • A Persistent Life

    Scott Reed won more cases than he lost in life, and the beauty of the Coeur d'Alene area has been the beneficiary
    • May 27, 2015
  • The Rachel We Knew
  • The Rachel We Knew

    EDITOR'S NOTE: How Rachel Dolezal came to write for the Inlander
    • Jun 18, 2015

© 2016 Inlander
Website powered by Foundation