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Unforgettable campaign


These American election campaigns run by the Republican and the Democratic parties have been eye openers for us who are observing them from the outside. Many of us have already concluded that there are too many personal attacks and smears. The attacks have only served to divert attention from the main issues, and especially the economic woes that are afflicting the country in the midst of bank failures, credit crunches and a major stock market crisis.{{more}} Many are of the opinion that there are deliberate attempts to shift from issues which are more important to the American people.

The campaign started off with reasonable punches on both sides. In one instance, the Republican candidate called on the Democratic candidate Senator Barrack Obama to visit Iraq as he thought he was not knowledgeable enough on the subject to be Commander in Chief. Obama took up the challenge and he confirmed what he was saying all along about the setting of a time line for the withdrawal of troops from Iraq. He visited some other countries, including Germany, where he drew a mammoth crowd of some two hundred thousand people. This fuelled one of Mc Cain’s most cynical advertisements. Obama was portrayed as a celebrity and was linked with Paris Hilton. The suggestion was that he was empty and shallow and not suitable to be the president of the United States of America

Their respective conventions gave a boost to both candidates. Senator Mc Cain produced his running mate Governor Sarah Palin which essentially fired up his conservative base and put him in the national lead. But in the meantime, the financial woes deepened, with bank failures and the stock market crisis. Many saw these as a result of the policies of the present Republican government, and since the talking point of the campaign was that the Republicans under Senator Mc Cain would give “more of the same”, the rhetoric got nasty. Not feeling that they could win on the economic issues, the Mc Cain camp declared that they were going to “turn the page on the economy” and talk about Obama’s character because if they continue to talk about the economy they would lose the election. Senator Mc Cain’s running mate swung on the personal attacks labeling Obama a terrorist by association because as she said he was “palling around with terrorists.” They sought to link him with ACORN, an organization which they claimed was perpetuating fraud with voters’ registration. Then they set to tear him down in “swing states” with robo-calls (telephone recorded calls) suggesting that he is a terrorist.

The most recent label for Senator Obama is “socialist” because he said he would “spread the wealth around.” But according to Colin Powell, this is a socialist policy that is already a part of the existing tax system. The Obama campaign has been on the defensive and has countered some of the worst effects of the negative campaigning. We get the message that negative campaign is not the way to go, especially when the population wants to hear about the economy. It may work to the disadvantage of the Republican Party by bringing the independent votes to the Democratic Party. It has already produced the significant endorsement of Colin Powell, a Republican, former Army General and Secretary of State.

Ada Johnson is a solicitor and barrister-at-law.
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