Why This Election is All About Character, Not Real Issues
(this piece first published on HuffingtonPost)
Sen. McCain's risky decision to run his presidential campaign based on character assassination, spreading fear and hatred and even questioning the patriotism of members of Congress, is the best indication that, come November, the Americans' decisions will be based more on the candidates' characters rather than real issues.
For some reason, whether it is because he is loosing control over his campaign, has weak stance in the Republican Party or has an obsessive desire to go the While House, McCain's behavior over the past few months has displayed an alarming inconsistency in his character, which is at odds with his previous alleged values and principles.
John McCain has repeatedly said he is not President Bush. But he is using the same fear mongering tactics that Bush has employed during the past eight years. The difference is that McCain is using those tactics against a "decent" citizen, a member of Congress who has been serving his country for more than 20 years. McCain has applied the same good-evil philosophy of the Bush administration, believing that everybody who is not for us is against us. Thus, it is not surprising that one of McCain's surrogates mentioned investigating members of Congress to see who is pro-American and who is anti-American, one of the most divisive allegations we have seen since the McCarthy era.
It fits in this evil-good doctrine that Sarah Palin can categorize the country into Pro-America areas and call her opponent somebody "who is palling around with terrorists." The fact that terms like "kill him" and "terrorist" have become the dominant narrative of aMcCain's campaign indicates which John McCain Americans will get to vote for come election day.
With it becoming more and more obvious that the United States is experiencing its worst time economically, politically and morally since World War II, running a divisive, polarizing campaign based on fear and hatred is the last thing Americans need.
If newspapers that traditionally endorse the Republican candidate shift their support to Obama, this will further illustrate how McCain's character flip-flop and lack of consistency have affected the public sphere. Colin Powel's endorsement and, more importantly, the justifications for his endorsement are also indications of McCain's poor judgment in choosing to run a negative campaign:
"I come to the conclusion that because of his [Obama's] ability to inspire, because of the inclusive nature of his campaign, because he is reaching out all across America, because of who he is and his rhetorical abilities -- and you have to take that into account -- as well as his substance -- he has both style and substance," Powell said. "He has met the standard of being a successful president, being an exceptional president."People generally vote based on their candidate's character. Character gives them a general impression about who their President is going to be and what they will represent. It's hard for many people to remember details of policies candidates promise, but they surely can see what kind of character can transcend race, religion and class and mobilize the country to move down a path it left eight years ago.
Just a few weeks prior to the elections, it's now clear that John McCain, the war hero and John McCain, the 2008 Presidential candidate are two distinct personalities. He contradicts the essential values and norms that he fought for decades ago.