Let’s talk about something taboo, dirty, nasty, R-rated, inappropriate for some (or all) viewers—politics. If you’ve been watching the news lately, you’ve likely heard about the controversy surrounding Herman Cain’s presidential campaign. Mr. Cain is attempting to fend off allegations by two, possibly three, women who claim Mr. Cain engaged in inappropriate behavior with them almost fifteen years ago. I’m not here to defend Mr. Cain or cast aspersions at him. What upset me most was a cavalier statement by someone in the media who said the Cain allegations were likely the result of a political opponent’s opposition research. Opposition research is the data politicians, or their lackeys, dig up and store on their opponents to be used at just the right time for maximum damage. In other words, ladies and gentlemen, you and I are being manipulated for our votes way more than we know. Today, opposition research teams dig for dirt in tax records, criminal records, education records, medical records, family problems, hiring practices and even church affiliations and beliefs.
Great ideas and dynamic ethical leadership are has-been notions these days. Winning means bloodying your opponent with so much scandal he or she can’t recover. And the most horrifying thing about this sorry state of affairs is that we the people lap it up. I wonder if we have become so intellectually lazy that we now prefer to make our voting decisions based on which candidate does the best job smearing the opposition. In other words, we vote for the candidate who is able to scheme the system and come off appearing like they have the least amount of dirty baggage, when in fact their opposition was just not as effective at uncovering the dirt. The winning number of votes goes to the candidate with the best opposition research team. Shudder!
How many journalists, I wonder, will take the tough road and dig up which candidate’s opposition research team uncovered the Cain scandal. Journalists, and the public, don’t get it—the real scandal is that opposition research is an accepted industry practice in modern politics. Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s very important to vet our candidates thoroughly. But that’s a job for a legitimate news media, not an opposition research team.
Not long ago I read an article about how some Christian universities were strategically educating Christian young people for careers in law, medicine, education and whatnot so as to cause a positive change in our culture. Apparently they overlooked politics.