Vol. 5 Num 864 Thu. November 02, 2006  

Politics is a dirty game

In the underdeveloped and developed countries alike politics has become a dirty game, indeed. Power mongering politicians are determined to remain in power to play dirty tricks during election campaigns to convince the voters who are, by and large, unconcerned about national and international issues while they remain busy earning their livelihood for survival. This is equally true in respect of the US.

During the campaign trail in America, whether it is presidential or congressional elections, negative ads over electronic media play a dirty game. It has turned out to be character assassination of each candidate. Millions and millions of dollars have been invested in these negative ads. No major issues which affect the people of America are reflected in the ads.

According to one source, the national committee of the Republican Party has invested 10 million dollars in negative ads against Democrat candidates where there is a possibility of losing the seat. That is a staggering amount of money.

However, debates on TV, between the contesting candidates, reflect national and international issues. Money matters in elections in America. Believe it or not, congressional candidates have raised $1.18 billion, which is 15 percent higher than the $1.03 billion raised in 2004.

It is expected that both political parties and candidates will raise a total of $2.6 billion dollars. Generally, the Republican Party is ahead in fund raising, because they depend on interest groups mostly.

November 7 is the day for congressional election in America. Every two years voters in America go to the polling stations to elect the House of Representatives and one third of the senators. For example, this year 33 senators would be contesting in the elections.

A large turnout of voters is expected to register their displeasure against many incumbent candidates whose roles are questionable indeed. Congress is considered as a rubber stamp for President Bush. 74 percent of Americans, according to very recent polls, opined against the role of the Congress.

They consider that Congress is out of touch with average Americans. Congress is charged with huge federal deficits, the unpopular war in Iraq, ignoring overseeing role of the Congress, and a string of scandals involving the indicted former majority leader in the House of Representatives Tom DeLay, indicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff, who has been in frequent contact with the White House, Representative Bob Ney, who decided not to contest before agreeing to plead guilty in the "influence peddling" scandal that snared Abramoff and some associates, and sex scandal involving former Republican representative, Mark Foley.

The war in Iraq will dominate the fate of the elections in November 7. Other key issues are immigration, national security, global warming, health cost, and energy. Anti-war strategists are of the opinion that the war in Iraq would be crucial in the elections because a huge amount of taxpayer money has been wasted in the war.

The ruling Republican Party and the Democratic Party have geared up their campaigns in the battleground states in Missouri, Virginia, Tennessee, and New Jersey. A new poll shows that 55 percent registered voters have expressed their discontent with President Bush, the Republican-led Congress and the war in Iraq, and indicated for change.

A poll by Newsweek found that 57 percent of those surveyed disapprove of President Bush's job performance, and just 35 approve. A political scientist at Emory University in Atlanta, Alan Abramowitz, is of the opinion that: "Swing voters, independent and moderate voters are unhappy with the administration and with the Republican Congress. It is going to be hard to change those dynamics in two week's time."

The Democratic Party needs 15 seats of the 435 of the House of Representatives, and 6 seats of the 100 member Senate, to win majority in the Congress.

With the number of deaths of American troops in Iraq rising at an alarming rate, and because of anti-war campaigns in different states, the popularity of President Bush, along with the Republican dominated Congress, has been eroded further. It is interesting to note that all polls show that the Democrats are much ahead of the Republicans.

Having seen the crisis, President Bush, First Lady Laura Bush, and Vice-President Dick Cheney, are on the campaign trail for the Republican candidates. The Republicans are now on the defensive, and are suggesting that if the Democratic Party controls the Congress, the insurgents in Iraq would win, and America would face threats from terrorists. In fact, the Republicans have begun desperate and unbecoming smear campaigns, attempting to discredit the Democrats.

For 12 years the Republican Party dominated in the Congress. In view of their mishandling of the war in Iraq, and scandals in the Congress, the Republicans might lose control of the House of Representatives, and in all likelihood the Democratic Party will gain a one or two seat majority in the Senate.

Mohammad Amjad Hossain, a former diplomat, writes from Virginia, US.