23 July 2008

Politics and Rhetoric

Jason Cherniak, in a post which appears on his blog today, hit on something which my friends and I have tried and tried and tried to get across to politicos.

He writes: "When you don't use rhetoric to get attention, you are often ignored in politics."

Not quite. When you DO use rhetoric, and to the point that content or substance gets virtually drowned in it, you register negatively with voters - or, put more succinctly, you risk putting people off from voting at all.

I wish parties and politicians would get this. My friends and I are increasingly sickened by the rhetoric and its frequency of use is only getting worse.

While the media may love manifestations of irate, incensed, and otherwise offended politicos - evidenced, for example, in the theatrics of puffed chests and cheeks and ruffled plumage -, voters aren't fooled. Messages that are filled with hyperbole rather than containing much, if any, substance convey to the commons that politicians think we are stupid.

Yet Canadians want debate. We want to be engaged. We want to know the issues. We want to know party policies and positions. We don't want to know how x FEELS about y, or whether so-and-so is "outraged," and we don't want Question Period to be used for the game of you'rrre-badder-than-weee-arrre, behaviour which most six-year-olds have outgrown.

There is proof that the public has been turned off by the over-the-top use of rhetoric. Do the research and find the numbers.

The party which has vented used the most hot air bombast and targeted the policies of other parties while only, almost as an afterthought, mentioned its own policies, is the party which has lost the highest percentage of its own supporters over the past four years.

Canadians want principled discussion from their politicians, not one-upmanship and the treatment of politics as a game.

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