How to Survive Election Campaign Rhetoric

With about 15 months until the 2016 U.S. Presidential election, the prolonged season of political discontent has returned. Vitriol, purple prose and rhetoric are spewing from candidates’ mouths, their speechwriters are on alert, and the public is the – sometimes ­– willing victim.

Viewing the whole political circus as entertainment is one strategy for survival. Talk show hosts enjoy the ready stream of quotable points they can use for their monologues.

Although it might be quite entertaining to hear a candidate stick his or her respective foot-in-mouth, perhaps we should take things a bit more seriously. One of the candidates traveling around and offering us their views could wind up representing our country, changing the world for years to come.

To better analyze what is being said, listen or read transcripts of what is actually being said. Is the candidate, in a debate format, answering the moderator’s question – or merely slipping in their prepackaged campaign talking points?

Ignore the rhetoric. Every candidate prepares with a skilled team of speechwriters, political consultants, and image-makers. Millions of dollars and votes are on the line, so they are not leaving one pause or word to chance. Is there a core of meaning buried in the speech or is the speech a cookie cutter piece of rhetoric, one-size-fits-all?

If a candidate appears credible, review their background. Is the campaign rhetoric supporting what their career and positions have been in the past?

Few candidates could be credibly seen to have an epiphany where they espouse a new set of values. If their speeches reflect something different than their past careers, they are probably pandering. Maybe that speech is meant for a particular audience with a certain life view.

With studies supporting the fact that many voters at the polls check off the candidate whose name is most familiar, as individuals we must make informed choices. It is time to vote for the candidate who is the best choice. Not the least of the evils.

As said in the film Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, “Choose wisely.”

2 Responses to How to Survive Election Campaign Rhetoric

  1. Janice

    What are your thoughts on alternative ways of voting, such as Approval Voting, that allows voters to show their support for multiple candidates? While knowing whether candidates’ speeches are showing their true colors, voters may still end up selecting a candidate who they think may have the best chance of winning vs. their favorite choice. This is one of the problems with our current system of Plurality Voting.

    • Shelley Gillespie

      Thank you for responding, Janice.

      I think that voters should choose the candidate they think will do the best job. If they vote for who they think has the best chance of winning, they are turning an election into a popularity contest. That is not what an election should be.

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