Gamesmanship is no substitute for real policy planks

There is nothing new about the spectre of gamesmanship and misrepresentation of an opponent’s statements; “putting a different spin on it” is the modern catchphrase for the activity. One can see the practice at play in the writings of Rome’s Julius Caesar on his campaign in Gaul or the full on fabrications of the emperors who followed him (one even claiming a successful invasion of Britain when all evidence points to that worthy never having set a foot across the channel).

In the age of Facebook and “alternate facts” the trend to “spin”  seems to have ascended to new and dizzying heights (albeit without the faking of full on invasions of foreign countries taking place…yet), but it is little wonder that the common individual has largely turned its back on the political elites represented by organized partisan politics.

Instead of presenting solid policy positions that will improve the lot of the common serf who spends most of their days trudging in drudgery with the increasingly vain hope of keeping the lights on, heat flowing and gruel on the table, we are presented with one-upmanship and sideshows that serve no meaningful purpose outside of scoring a few partisan points with that party’s base or herding the unwary into their fold.

But there is a cautionary note here for the practitioners of “clickbait” misrepresentation of their political opponents’ positions and off-hand utterances. Once drawn into the narrative, reasonable people, and many of those are the people who actually still vote these days, will react badly when they realize they have been had. Governing is too important an occupation to willfully waste credibility on frivolous sidebars.

It is tremendously difficult not to be drawn into dwelling on the frivolous, especially when the mechanics of elections, those backroom cadres who inhabit the shadows of all political parties, are able to point to studies that show the tactic is effective. “Keep the negative narrative going,” is a common admonition. The more hours, days and weeks that a negative impression can be fostered in the not-so-attentive public mind the better their own candidate’s chances when they enter the lists and attempt to unseat the incumbent government.

It is tempting to simply cry “a pox on all your houses” and turn our backs on the democratic process, after all, we all have busy lives with more important things to do than engage in sandbox level politics. But we must resist that temptation. Too much depends on peace, order and good government to abdicate our responsibilities as active members of a democratic nation—no matter how flawed the current state of affairs might be.

Each and every reasonable person should set aside any partisan blinkers they may normally wear, if any, and let their representatives at all levels of government know that enough is enough. Get off of the monkey bars and get on with the business of government.