For a while now I’ve been troubled by one of Democracy for America’s (DFA’s) new campaign for the 2012 election season: Heroes and Villains.
This campaign, which started September 23rd and will end October 14th, allows users to vote for their favorite House and Senate representatives (Heroes) and their least favorite (Villains). While the Hero with the most votes gets financial support and publicity, the Villain gets an “anti-endorsement” from DFA, which entails support for hir opponent, negative publicity, and “a long-term commitment by DFA to defeat the Villain.”
The campaign has a pretty, colorful homepage and short, flashy blurbs about each nominee. It is meant to be fun, to encourage people to get involve, and even perhaps to satirize politics. In general, these are ideals I support. However, I think this campaign is doing the field of politics more harm than good. It is too divisive.
Back in January, when Obama delivered his memorial speech in honor of the victims of the Arizona shooting, he made a point about how low our political discourse had sunk. He called on people to recognize that heated, incendiary language was not helping our country, and that politics was supposed to be a civil conversation, not a hateful one.
Despite this, in recent months, what with the 2012 election looming closer and closer (though still a whole year away), politicians have increasingly been making controversial remarks (mostly empty rhetoric meant to galvanize their party), refusing to contribute to bipartisan efforts, and mostly resorting to scapegoating one-another for the sad state our Union is in.
Now, where does DFA come into the picture? Yes, the organization is progressive. Yes, it was started by Howard Dean. No, I don’t expect them to be championing the Republican Party, but why must they fuel this toxic environment we’ve created surrounding politics, in which there are “heroes” and “villains” and nothing in between. Will singling individuals out for their behavior really help our country move forward?
UPDATE: New “Designate your Anti-Vote” campaign for the Republican presidential nominees. Just more of the same.