During election years, distraction tactics increase massively and play a huge role in national, regional and local politics. Some candidates and their support staff create distractions to avoid addressing specific issues, to disguise weakness or lack of knowledge, to ensure that unpleasant or perhaps down right dishonest acts escape close scrutiny. There is no shortage of those who attempt to focus attention on trivial, unimportant issues in order to draw focus away from vital issues. Successful distraction tactics can lead to major issues remaining unresolved and result in cities, counties or a nation governed by a group of weak, uninformed, selfish or dishonest officials who cater to special interest rather than what is best for the citizens they govern.
I encourage the voters of Mesquite not to let this happen in our city and to guard against the following distraction tactics.
- Quoting Authority: Watch out for those who regularly quote un-named experts or refer to unverifiable data. This is an attempt to mask lack of experience or knowledge regarding the real issues.
- Using Emotion and Bullying: Don’t support those who use school yard bully tactics. Challenge the name callers and finger pointers. Avoid those who preach hell fire and damnation if their candidate is not elected.
- Ridiculing the Opponent: Don’t be distracted by those who focus on belittling or ridiculing their opponents. Determine what a specific candidate can and will do, not what the opponent can’t or won’t do.
- Spouting Complex Theories: Don’t be fooled by those who want to make their message unnecessarily complex. This is usually an attempt to mask lack of common sense or the lack of solutions to vital issues.
- Asking Multiple Questions: Avoid candidates who overload you with questions under the guise “seeking your input”. This is pure flattery aimed at distracting you. Seeking input is fine, up to a point, but serious candidates will spend more time offering solutions.
- Poisoning the Well: Discrediting the opponent is a classic political dirty trick. It’s done to distract you from the fact that their own message is weak or unfocused. Don’t be fooled by those who make claims that their opponent (or the opponent’s mother – father – spouse – children) isn’t as pure as the driven snow.
- Using Irrelevancy: Unless you are directly impacted by who did what to whom a few years back or unless the historical data has a direct bearing on current issues, don’t be distracted by it. This is an attempt to lead you away from relevant issues. Election time is not the time to engage in games of trivial pursuit.
- Exercising Repetition: Reject those who repeat the same lie, misconception or misleading statement over and over. Repetition doesn’t make it true.
- Placing Style over Substance: Keep alert for the silver tongued devils. The ability of a candidate to speak eloquently, use whiz-bang technology or professional audio/visuals doesn’t ensure that their message is factual or accurate.
To earn the right to hold elected officials accountable for their job performance, voters must not be distracted by 30 second sound bites. Attention must remain focused on what the candidates really stand for and how well equipped they are to manage the office to which they hope to be elected.
Betty Freeman Haines, an author and award winning columnist, lives in Mesquite, NV. Her books/e-books, Reluctant Hero and Grieving Sucks or Does It, can be ordered from amazon.com. Share your thoughts and opinions with her at firstname.lastname@example.org