When are we going to get a kinder, gentler presidential campaign?

Published 8:27am Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Do you think you are going to make it? I mean all the way until Nov. 6. It’s only 111 days, a little less than four months. That’s not too long if you are waiting for something nice, like say Thanksgiving, but for my ears’ sake, Nov. 6th can’t get here too soon! That’s Election Day.

Obviously, the candidates and their surrogates have not been brought up with the same set of manners that I was. You know that old saying, “If you can’t say something good about someone, don’t say anything at all.”

Both of the gentlemen running for the presidency are old enough to have heard it, but they seem to have forgotten it. Where did the saying come from? My research was quick, with just a Google search via the internet, but I found that the saying is not too old.

The oldest reference was to a quote from President Teddy Roosevelt’s daughter, Alice Roosevelt Longworth. It’s not the exact quote, but is similar. “If you can’t say anything nice, come sit here by me.” I think that meant that if you wanted to “diss” (disrespect) someone, come sit by her so she could join in.

No doubt the most accurate remembrance of the quote comes from the 1942 Walt Disney animated movie Bambi. A cute little rabbit by the name of Thumper asked Bambi’s mother what she was going to call her baby.

“I’m going to call him Bambi,” she said.

“That’s a funny name,” Thumper said. Then Thumper’s mother scolded him, very gently.

She said, “Thumper, what did your father tell you this morning?”

Thumper hung his head down, just a little, and replied, “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say nothin’ at all.”

What do you think, folks? That we should make the current President and the wannabe President sit down and watch Bambi, especially the part with Thumper repeating what his father told him? I think that would be just right.

Imagine if the President and all his surrogates and Mr. Romney and all his could say nothing of a negative nature about the other. Another saying comes to mind. “Silence is golden.”

Then, since nothing negative could be said, they might use all the money that has been raised to negatively paint each other to help pay down the national debt. Why, at the rate they are raising money, in just a few months happy days would be here again.

Seriously, I think the negativity has reached a point where the American public is close to turning off all references to the election. Who could blame us? According to the speeches, the commercials, and all the other hullaballoo associated with the campaigns one candidate is a failure and the other is a possible felon. The language used to express such opinions is unattractive and untrue.

It’s not good. One of the great hallmarks of this country, if not its greatest, is our system of elections. It’s not a perfect system; there are large groups, women and minorities, who have had to struggle mightily for their rights to vote. It has had its weaknesses.

We may still have some problems, but, once again, a strength of America has been its ability to work out its problems in a place, the ballot box, where when all is said and done, has shown more reason than not. People have been able to debate with passion and fight for their causes; then, at the end of the election, claim victory or accept defeat with a sort of grace that enabled the country to move forward with some modicum of unity.

Recently, that seems to have changed. Many pundits will say that it has always been this way. They point backwards to some year in which candidates were much more malicious and spiteful. They seem to accept and even enjoy the negativity that is a part of our elections these days. It’s good for ratings and some even say that all the negativity “works.”

It doesn’t work for me. I have seen many elections. I voted in my first one more than 40 years ago. If I have missed one, I don’t remember. I don’t intend to miss this one, but I am about as turned off to all things political as I have ever been. I remind everyone; I am a positive person and it takes a lot to get my goat.

What is happening in our country these days and this election is not healthy for our country. We already have a very low percentage of people who register and vote and all this fussing and fighting, this back and forth on such superfluous “stuff” only makes it more difficult for people to involve themselves. That’s not good.

I know there is a need for candidates to separate themselves from each other for the sake of the race. Nothing wrong with that, but keep it to the issues. Don’t go out in left field trying to paint such a negative picture of your opponent that it winds up looking hateful and spiteful. And try to tell the truth if it is in you. And remember above all, “If you can’t say anything good about someone, don’t say anything at all.”

If you can’t do that, we may have to resort to the next bit of discipline. We may make both of you hug each other and make up! As my daddy used to say to my brother and me, “Don’t make me come in there!

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