Slinging mud, or unjustly using insults as a means to discredit an opponent, is a time-honored tradition in the realm of politics, and it is once again becoming the weapon of choice for politicians like Bruce Braley, although his recent comments may have a negative impact on the midterms come November. The Democratic candidate is running for a Senate seat in Iowa against incumbent Sen. Charles Grassley. During a fundraiser in January, captured on video, Braley says that if people vote for him they will have a person with a similar background, experience, and voice on the Senate Judiciary Committee, but if not, then they might have a farmer from Iowa with no law degree, no experience in practicing law sitting on the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Braley not only sought to discredit Grassley as a legitimate voice for the people in Iowa, he insulted farmers all across the state, which he seems to have forgotten, is a huge portion of the citizenry. Iowa features over 92,600 farms totaling nearly 30.7 million acres of land, with the average farm being 331 acres. Statistics show that 90 percent of Iowa’s land is used for farming. To say that Braley may have shot himself in the foot would be an understatement.
The extent of the damage done by Bruce Braley and his mudslinging insults will not be fully visible until the midterms, when it may have a negative impact on the Democratic Party across the state and the nation. Braley has released an apology, but given his apparent elitist mentality, one has to wonder if it was really sincere, or just an attempt to salvage his campaign before the June 3 primary. He will more than likely feel the hard hit by then, but the Democratic Party as a whole should be furious with his comments, as this could further alienate the American people, who are already dissatisfied with party performance, from wanting to throw votes in their direction this fall.
Politicians on both sides of the aisle tend to have an elitist mentality, one that makes them feel superior to the common folk who vote them into office. People like Grassley, who has owned a farm for years, and often returns home on weekends to work on it, gets looked down upon because they did not attend Ivy League schools or get doctorate degrees, as if spending a ton of money to purchase a piece of paper automatically qualifies a person as being intelligent enough to run a country. Truth be told, a lot of the mess America is in financially has been created by the hands of individuals who are members of the “elite” with fancy degrees. That is not to say that college is bad by any means. It means that being college educated does not indicate that an individual has the skills or intellect to be involved in government.
The American republic was not built by intellectual elitists, though many of them were extremely brilliant men. Most of them, George Washington included, were farmers. These individuals were “salt of the earth,” holding down dirty jobs that required real skill. Many of them were not college educated, while others were. Many were homeschooled. The thing to note here is that the Founders did not all come from the same walk of life. This enabled them to bring different perspectives to the table, a diversity of opinion that eventually led to the writing of the Constitution. This is something Braley and many elitists in both parties do not seem to grasp. If this country is to continue in existence, it will need to have leaders from a variety of walks of life, bringing their own expertise and experience to the battlefield of ideas. If men like Bruce Braley do not stop mud-slinging, the negative impact it could have on the midterm elections will only be the beginning, as the American people grow more wary of the “elite” every day.
Opinion by Michael Cantrell