Wednesday, March 30, 2016


Over the last few months I have been watching reports on the upcoming American elections and the race to become the Republican and Democrat nominations to ultimately run for the White House. At the moment it seems that it may boil down to a fight between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton (If Hillary becomes America's first female President, will that make Bill, First Gentleman?).

More frightening is the possibility that the nuclear button will be at the end of Donald Trump's fingers. However, as recent results have been declared, it seems that Republican voters are believing that Donald Trump is the viable option to fight either Clinton or Sanders for the keys to the Oval office. If that nightmare scenario becomes a reality then the world should be afraid, very afraid.

Either Trump is a great actor, he is certainly a showman, or he is the Election Joke and nobody has seen the funny side yet? His unscripted oratory at conventions and caucuses appears to whip up xenophobia, racism, violence and mayhem. One of his pet projects, he declares, is to build a high wall along the Mexican border and make the Mexicans pay for it. He also wants all Muslims to be deported from the United States, saying that immigrants should go back to their own country, failing to see the irony in the fact that, apart from Native American Indians, every other person in  America is descended from immigrants. Trump's family is descended from Germany.

Across the many television stations in the US, there is a unique type of advert used by political rivals called the 'Attack Ad'.

Wikipedia describes an Attack Ad as:
"an advertisement whose message is designed to wage a personal attack against an opposing candidate or political party in order to gain support for the attacking candidate and attract voters. Attack ads often form part of negative campaigning or smear campaigns, and in large or well-financed campaigns, may be disseminated via mass media."

Attack Ads are the worst in personality politics. Instead of attacking the individual's  policies, these adverts attack the individual, often with scurrilous and libellous comments, which would not be allowed in many other civilised countries. 

Because of the rise of social media over the last twenty years, ordinary people who, in the past, would be moaning to their mates on a Friday night in the pub, now have access to a much wider audience for their gripes. In Jersey, never has a local politician been as accessible to their electorate as in the age of instant messaging, Facebook, Twitter and the like. However, many stay away from social media, while others seem to engage frequently with their voters. Unfortunately, I have witnessed sustained personal attacks from the public, voters and incumbents of the House. Surely this is no way to engage in political debate. My father once said that you can attack the policy, even come up with an alternative to that which is being discussed, but you should never resort to petty name calling and personal attacks as a person would lose their credibility in an instant.

In some of the hustings in 2014, during Jersey's first General Election, candidates verbally attacked other candidates sharing the platform. This is unforgivable and lacks class. To change a well known saying slightly,

"Comment in haste, repent at leisure*". 
(*original saying is marry in haste, repent at leisure)

Too many people shoot from the hip, without loading the gun or more recognisably, they fail to engage brain before using their mouth (or fingers if they are typing). Things are often said in the heat of the moment, which, with the luxury of hindsight, they would not have said in that manner. Once you have published the comment, you cannot take it back as it is published in real-time. Even if you delete the comment, it is already out there.

In the run-up to the 2018 General Election, to be held in May for the first time, it would be nice to think that there will be robust political jousting without the unnecessary personal antagonism.

Play nicely children ! 

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