The Value of “Mudslinging” Politics

This morning (June 28, 2012), before the Supreme Court ruling on the Affordable Healthcare Act, I read a news blog that said whether or not the Court supported the Act, Romney had a response.  In the past few days, he had taken to label Obama a “moral failure”: “His policies were not focused on creating jobs. They were focused on implementing his liberal agenda.”  On the other side, Romney continues to be labeled “Outsourcer-in-Chief” based on his record at Bain Capital or “flip-flopper” by Obama supporters.  Well, you may say, it’s OK because they are trying to frame the candidates and the issues to their advantage.

What we fail to realize is that all the mudslinging, either personal attacks with labels such as “moral failure” or otherwise labeling the person’s viewpoints or actions, reveals nothing other than how the originator actually judges themselves.  I’m talking about the labels that we use in judgment not about describing actions as an impartial observer.

All judgment is self-judgment and when we judge another, all any of us do is point a finger back at ourselves… we are showing others who we are and what we stand for.  Romney and Obama are no different.  If Obama is a “moral failure” then Romney is showing us that he judges, believes this in some way about himself as well.

You may ask, “How can this be so?”  Like it or not, our perspectives on and experiences of life are driven by what is inside of us, our conscious and unconscious beliefs, values, assumptions, etc. This includes our beliefs about ourselves that are largely relegated to our unconscious.  And, unbeknownst to us, we project these beliefs, how we see ourselves, onto others.  This means what we say about another, we actually believe about ourselves and our underlying feelings are likely shame, anxiety and/or anger.  When I read personal attacks and other judgments in the comments made on news stories, I wonder if people realize that they are doing nothing more revealing their own self-judgments.

This perspective does make watching the political arena a bit more interesting:  We can learn much about what the candidates think of themselves by what they say about their opponent.  Perhaps this can become motivation enough to stick to the issues, describing prior records and proposed solutions and leave the labels out.

So what does all this have to do with Leading as Love?  Leaders establish common ground that serves the greater good.  I repeat, leaders establish common ground that serves the greater good.  This means creating unity in diversity based in the current context of issues that can be addressed by the collective without adherence to or imposing an ideology.  By definition, leaders enable us to collaborate and cooperate, unless we, ourselves are adhering to and imposing our own “idols.”  Then life becomes a competition with winners and losers which does nothing more than serve our own addictions for approval and control.

What I would like to hear is how all candidates plan to engage each of us and our viewpoints in finding solutions that serve the greater good.  I would like to hear how they:

  • Care about everyone’s well-being.
  • Understand all of our issues without judgment.
  • Respect each and every one of us without control or imposing their agenda and way of thinking.
  • Respond to all situations based on the current context and not some ideology or past solution.

Common ground that serves the greater good means everyone, not just some people.  Is it too much to ask those we elect to uphold true “freedom, a government of the people, by the people and for the people?”

When we look at life this way, we hold all the power when we actively choose to lead our own lives and to select true leaders as those who we follow.  Is this too much to ask of ourselves?

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