As the 2010 election cycle finally draws to a close, Americans across the country are breathing a collective sigh of disgust. It has been a brutal campaign season and all those candidate’s anti-ads are finally history…at least for a week or two. Here in Ohio the pressure has been particularly intense. The New York Times reports that Ohio is the most politically important state in America. At least that is what the White House thinks. President Obama visited Cleveland just yesterday, his 12th visit to Ohio since he took office.
Negative ads have suffocated the airwaves in recent weeks with some TV stations reporting 80% of their commercial time sold to political interests. So what are we to make of all the name calling, finger pointing and misrepresentation? Aren’t we better than that?
Strategists say it works. Voters respond to negativity. I suspect it has a lot to do with the way we communicate. Speechifying today embraces nano-bites, the tiniest tad of information possible. So how can you scrutinize someone with so little information to go on? You can’t. How can answers to a multifaceted problem like health care reform be articulated in minuscule fragments? It can’t. It is much easier to denounce in 60 seconds than to make someone understand a complex issue. It is quicker to pinpoint fault than to expound virtue. Does it have to be that way?
Mary Baker Eddy never sought political office. As one of the most influential women of her time, she could have. But as the discoverer of Christian Science and founder of the Church of Christ, Scientist, she had a different role to fulfill. She could have used her clout to influence voters. But she didn’t. Her life’s work was to forward deeper understanding of God and man and to advance compassion in the human experience. Genuineness was her approach.
In addition to establishing the Christian Science Church, she founded the Christian Science Monitor to combat the misinformation that plagued the media of the early 1900’s. She, too, was sometimes the target of disinformation. Yet, she handled the attention without mudslinging. She spoke plainly, gently. Can we do that? We can.