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The debate between candidates in the 13th Congressional District at ISU Wednesday was supposed to be an opportunity for people to get straight answers on the issues and really see the differences between the two candidates.

In that regard, it was somewhat successful: Both candidates articulated plans on the economy, health care, and addressed the national deficit that they will likely have no part in crafting beyond voting however their caucus leader tells them to vote.

The real eye-opener, for anybody who has not been following the race too closely up to this point, is how eager both men were to attack the other and how dubious the attacks were.

We should all be used to candidates running against the realities of Congress, because we’d like to believe such a person might actually win. We don’t want our campaigns to be won by corporate money. That is more or less what the constituents of the 13th District will be getting, however, and it’s tiresome to hear both candidates take such elaborate pains to claim otherwise.

Above and beneath the actual responses to actual questions, Davis and Gill took time aside to hammer each other on the corporate donors who, directly or indirectly, fund their campaigns.

Living in a post-Citizens United world, this is the reality of campaigning, and criticizing your opponent for doing so while you are also doing so in a slightly different manner is like a crab and a lobster calling one another out on their exoskeletons. Political parties pour “soft” money into races in outlandish amounts while your grandmother is legally limited to a couple thousand dollars. Most private citizens, and by “most” I mean all but a tiny statistical aberration of them, can’t afford to give even that.

It is inevitable, then, that both Gill and Davis would draw heavily from the unlimited stream of money their partisan organizations (which are in turn funded by huge, faceless corporations) are offering, rather than hope for the grandmas of the 13th Congressional District of Illinois to deliver for them. Moreover, it makes both men hypocrites for calling out one another on it. I have to believe the voters of the 13th District are not fooled by this, but both candidates would do well to stop making any attempts at fooling them.

The campaign practices of all candidates running for all 535 seats in Congress reek to high heaven under our current system, but like that summer you worked a hog farm, you get used to the smell because you know for the time being, there’s not a thing to be done about it. These two guys differ in enough ways that they can easily focus on insulting one another’s policies instead of reminding us how putrescent it all is.

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