Find lines of attack that could goad Mr. Gingrich into angry responses and rally mainstream Republicans. Swarm Gingrich campaign events to rattle him. Have Mr. Romney drop his above-the-fray persona and carry the fight directly to his opponent, especially in two critical debates scheduled for the week.1
Sentiments like this, hardly unique to the Romney campaign or to the Repuublican party, are stark evidence that the primary contests are reinforcing characteristics in our elected officials which really are not the skills our leaders need when (or if) they get elected. Leadership at the national executive level requires many qualities, but I think it is safe to say that politeness, diplomacy, and tact are among them. Does going around calling each other liars really show the skills that are needed to run our country?
I don’t really know whom to blame for this trend? The obvious answer is the politicians themselves, but frankly they are just giving us what we want. When you look at the candidates who might qualify as reserved, thoughtful, balanced (Jon Hunstman for example), they don’t get much traction in the media. So maybe the media is to blame? They are certainly a favorite target, even by the candidates themselves2. But again, they are driven by revenues and ratings are driven by viewers, and viewers like conflict. And conflict is easier to sustain and show with pithy, blunt, angry soundbites.
People are motivated by how they are rewarded. And I think that we, as voters, are rewarding the wrong skills. Regardless of what your political views are, I think everyone can agree that we want our leaders to be able to execute those views in the best way if they win their elections.
Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. 3
Clearly, we are not happy with most of our politicians4. So why are we still voting for them and people who act like them?
Side Note: While I am using the Republicans to make my point here, I only do so because they are the only party having a meaningful primary this election cycle. I 100% believe that the same thing would happen with the Democrats. A pox on both our houses.