Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: SMEAR (03/10/16)
- TITLE: An Election Year, or an Election Smear?
By Noel Mitaxa
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Commentators and pollsters are dominating our 24/7 news cycles, ever ready to add their bias to their reports. You could almost be forgiven for thinking that they know more about how to run the country than those we elect. But such is the nature of political power: always better understood by those who seek it; by those who have just lost it; or by those feel that everyone has the right to hear their opinions.
The slightest slip-up by anyone can smear their reputation irreparably, as the instant-outrage of social media and its political correctness builds an avalanche of overstated anxieties, which blurs any view of the whole picture.
How candidates respond to these pressures will shape their long-term survival. But this is only the beginning, for their parliamentary opponents and their minions are ever keen to reveal their own point-scoring prowess. Usually on peripheral issues.
Yet there is a lighter side of the point-scoring and smear campaigns...
During a 1984 presidential debate, when Ronald Reagan was asked if, at 73, he was too old to be President, his reply was memorable. “I will not make age an issue of this campaign. I am not going to exploit, for political purposes, my opponent's youth and inexperience!" Even his opponent Walter Mondale smiled at that one.
Town hall meetings belong to another era of campaigns, but some smears have been adroitly turned back on the hecklers. “I wouldn’t vote for you if you were the Archangel Gabriel!” called one voice.
“Sir,” came the reply, “If I were the Archangel Gabriel, you would not be in my constituency!”
“I’d poison your coffee if you were my husband,” one woman shrieked.
“Madam, if I was your husband, I’d drink the coffee!”
As one candidate stepped up to the podium, somebody yelled, “Tell us all you know, it will only take a minute!”
“I’ll do better than that,” he replied, “I’ll tell ’em what we both know – it won’t take any longer!”
When a Democrat dairy farmer discovered a Republican candidate at the cow yard gate, he offered him a pile of dried manure to stand on so the workers could hear his campaign speech. Afterwards, he told the candidate he had never heard those policies before. To which the candidate replied, “And that’s the first time I’ve spoken from a Democrat platform!”
Jim Killen, a conservative, and Fred Daly, a dyed-in-the-wool Labor man, were famous political sparring partners―and very good friends―in Australia’s federal parliament until the mid-1970s; and their regular tongue-in-cheek barbs frequently prevented tensions from getting out of hand. Once, when Killen accused Daly of suffering from a “Baron Munchausen syndrome,” Daly immediately leapt to his feet to seek leave―because “I want to know if I’ve been insulted!”
In retirement, Killen’s letter to his much-older friend touched on the hereafter, “Fred, since you may well reach the pearly gates before me, could you please put in a good word for me?”
“I’ve already been in touch,” Daly wrote back, “and found that there could soon be a vacancy for a senior angel―with no left wing!”
Any fool can join the choruses of suspicion, or turn their wit to sarcastic smearing of reputations, but in this election year, let’s plug into Paul’s admonition to Timothy in 1 Tim 2:2, and pray for all those in – or seeking – power, so they may discover God’s wisdom within the reality that there are no purely human solutions. But most of all, that “righteousness exalts a nation.” Prov 14: 34
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