I wrote this in the run-up to the last election, just before both Parties released their election platforms. I actually thought I had published it, so I was surprised to see that I hadn’t. I was really quite dismayed at the way both Parties were campaigning. I hadn’t learned how to create hyperlinks at this time, but I will try and fix that today, just to make it a bit of an easier read; I’ll also see if I can find links to some of the things I wrote about.
The title of this post is a traditional well-known saying. Traditional and well-known however does not make it true. In an earlier post I likened politics to war, and the election periods a particular fluid war, a war of movement as opposed to the trench warfare that predominates in between elections. In this war of movement there are the official military forces, the organised Parties (the UBP and the PLP), there are also proxy forces in the form of various blogs (I would categorise New Onion, Politics.bm and imho.bm (Vexed Bermoothes too?) as de facto UBP blogs; bermudasucks and bermudaisanotherworld.org are essentially neutral battlegrounds, but predominated by anti-PLPers, with one being slightly more dominated with right wing opinions than the other; PLP.bm and progressiveminds.bm are formal PLP blogs, Bdastr8nochaser is pro-PLP but its relation to the PLP formal forces are not as clear as the pro-UBP blogs despite superficial appearences; this blog itself is pro-PLP but seeks to acheive an independent line of constructive criticism; 21square and the devil island I view as liberal blogs). In addition to the blogs, other proxy forces would be the anti-independence group, which is pro-UBP in practice, and rogue supporters on both sides (responsible for anti-PLP doctored photos by pro-UBPers for example), and any legion of letter to the editor writers and call ins to the various talkshows. New weapons are also available and have thus changed the nature of the war as well, principally in the realm of telecommunications, the blogs, youtube, also greater reliance on television commercials.
I also wrote earlier that I have a love-hate relationship with this time of the war moving from the trenches to active moving war. Its the politics I love; its the politricks I hate.
So far in the election politricks has dominated, and I am not impressed with the mutual mudslinging from both sides.
From the UBP I find their advertisements largely repugnant and hypocritical. The UBP is desparately trying to portray themselves as taking the high road, avoiding gutter politics and sticking to the issues. But in almost every single ad they have done the opposite. While they do dress up their ads with the appearence of dealing with substance, they similteonously are doing just the opposite. Most of their campaign has been an attack on Dr. Brown (personalities not the issues) with ads screaming headlines like ‘We will no mislead you’ (a direct reference to Dr. Browns’ post 2003 election speech at a special delegates conference) and ‘Trust’ (attempting to portray Dr. Brown and by extension the PLP as untrustworthy). Furthermore, they are engaging in a number of smears and misrepresentation of facts. In particular they are attempting to give the impression that crime has increased under the PLP, and that only a return to a UBP government will save us all. They also try to portray life under the PLP as being one of increased taxation, and of a breakdown of ‘family values’ whatever those are. Then there was that awkwardly awful fish animation of theirs. Full of innuendos and smears, let alone creating a strawman PLP to attack. The worst aspect was it wasn’t even done very well. Truly pathetic.
Another funny part of the UBP campaign is their response to the PLP car flags. The UBP car flags are not even clearly UBP; one has to go up real close to read the fine print. When I saw them I thought of CURE or CURB, but not the UBP. As for the image they seek to portray with it, one of racial unity, I have covered my analysis of this in the post ‘A Boxful of Crayons’ where I put forward the argument that the UBP only puts forward a superficial appearence of its racial composition for political gain; they deliberately mislead the people for political gain.
Their proxies are (a) carrying on these false arguments, and (b) putting forward more extreme and false views. For example Vexed Bermoothes and Politics.bm are at the very least insinuating that should the PLP loose the upcoming election there will be riots (and by extension the PLP will be responsible for these riots) (see Politics.bm and Vexed). This is echoed in two threads on bermudasucks (there was also an earlier thread, a couple months ago that had a similar argument, but I haven’t bothered to hunt it down yet).
The PLP itself has joined the silliness as well. The one that really gets me are the so-called google bombs. I can understand the advantage of these, and think they can be used well, but the method they have been deployed so far come across as juvenile and generally crass. The full page advert put forward in the papers arguing that the UBP will agitate for corporal and capital punishment could have been done better and researched properly. While there is some truth to what the ad argued, it was done poorly and counterproductively. The same with the ‘puppetmaster’ TV ad one can see on youtube (http://www.progressiveminds.bm/?q=node/229) while also having a kernel of truth, the way it was presented was not generally effective.
Both sides of the political divide have come out of the campaign so far covered in mud, and I don’t think it is impressing the swing voters at all but preaching to the choirs on both sides composed of fanatics (and yes there are both UBP and PLP dogmatists).
Polemics are supposed to raise the bar of political discourse and develop the political consciousness of the people. The diatribe of mudslinging on both sides along with accompanying spin is instead only contributing to mutual enmity and distaste in the mouth of the non-aligned voter.
I understand that both Party platforms will be out next week, and I hope this will signal a change from reactionary mudslinging to genuine discourse.
While both sides may argue that the other side started the mudslinging, or that under war consitions all’s fair, I believe that these tactics are counterproductive. ‘Soldiers’ are supposed to obey commands unqeustioningly. However, not all commands are lawful, and soldiers have a right and a duty to reject unlawful commands and refuse to carry out commands that are contrary to the goal of the mission. Mudlsinging is one of these such commands.