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Civility suffers in political pandemic

by Dave Botting
| May 7, 2020 1:00 AM

The vast majority of Idahoans, in my experience, are drawn to civil conversation and respectful interactions with other people as we acknowledge and work through our differences. It is concerning, however, watching a small group of individuals with an insatiable appetite for attention exploiting this current election season for self gain.

The harm and damage done to the reputation of honorable candidates by a group of bullies, who lie and promote misrepresentations of information, can never be undone. The influence these individuals have had upon election results is a troubling reality.

Politics, we’re constantly reminded, is a dirty game; true, but only to the extent we tolerate the bad behavior. A chain is only as strong as its weakest link. When the weak links in our community are not held accountable for their harmful actions the community loses much. These weak links discourage constructive discourse through their menacing and malicious attacks which lack credibility and civility.

Deliberately distorted and dishonest information during this campaign season, limited by the COVID-19 isolation, is difficult for the candidates to respond to. Malicious, negative attacks on social media sites are accepted by those easily swayed by emotional appeals and drama-cast accusations.

The status of this current election season, with the politics of personal destruction running rampant, calls for addressing. Wise voters will refrain from accepting the vitriolic assaults on the candidates as fact-based. These attacks are designed to stir an emotional reaction in voters; they are not intended to inform. Integrity is clearly lacking in these emotionally-inspired, fact-devoid accusations and personal attacks.

“When the debate is lost, slander becomes the tool of the losers.” This statement is attributed to the wisdom of Socrates. Wise voters should avoid sharing posts and liking comments on Facebook intended to stir fear and outrage. Through respect and consideration, these voters will also give the accused an opportunity to rebut the misinformation presented. Wise voters will ignore claims by opportunists who are merely beating their chest seeking to draw attention to themselves.

As Idahoans guided by wisdom and common sense, we need to support those candidates and leaders who are committed to our community’s best overall results. The conscientious among us reject the drama-ridden accusations designed to play on fear and anger in voters.

The best thing voters can do is to ignore the rants, ramblings and baseless assaults of the social media trolls.

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Dave Botting is a Kootenai County resident.