As I am sitting here reading the articles on The Porch, I receive a phone call from one of the candidates running in my district. It is one of those recorded messages wherein the opponent is accused of: wanting children to burn in their pajamas, wanting a terrorist attack, wanting to send all American jobs to China, wanting foreign investors to own America, and wanting more taxpayer dollars to go to the rich. At least he wasn’t accused of kicking children in the face.

Politico has put together some of the more egregious ones nationwide.

On the clever side, we could teach philosophy through attack ads.

While I am not of the opinion that elections have gotten nastier over time, there are some distinct differences. There is no marketplace wherein claims can be disputed. There is no opportunity (other than voting) for those receiving the message to pushback. The candidate is limited only by his or her funds and reaches mass, though anonymous, audiences. There is no transparency regarding who is saying what on behalf of whom, creating only more confusion in the electorate. We are unfortunate to live in the age of the professional campaign manager, whose sole interest is in winning elections. I regard them as a blight on our political landscape.

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Jeffrey Polet
Jeffrey Polet grew up in an immigrant household in the immigrant town of Holland MI. After twenty years of academic wandering he returned to Holland and now teaches political science at Hope College, where he also grudgingly serves as chair of the department, having unsuccessfully evaded all requests. In the interim, he continues to nurture quirky beliefs: Division III basketball is both athletically and morally superior to Division I; the Hope/Calvin rivalry is the greatest in sports; the lecture is still the best form of classroom instruction; never buy a car with less than 100,000 miles on it; putts will still lip out in heaven; bears are the incarnation of evil; Athens actually has something to do with Jerusalem; and Tombstone is a cinematic classic. His academic work has mirrored his peripatetic career. Originally trained at the Catholic University of America in German philosophy and hermeneutical theory, he has since gravitated to American Political Thought. He still occasionally writes about European thinkers such as Michel Foucault or the great Max Weber, but mostly is interested in the relationship between theological reflection and political formation in the American context. In the process of working on a book on John Marshall for The Johns Hopkins University Press, he became more sensitive to the ways in which centralized decision-making undid local communities and autonomy. He has also written on figures such as William James and the unjustly neglected Swedish novelist Paer Lagerkvist. A knee injury and arthritis eliminated daily basketball playing, and he now spends his excess energy annoying his saintly wife and their three children, two of whom are off to college. Expressions of sympathy for the one who remains can be posted in the comments section. He doesn’t care too much for movies, but thinks opera is indeed the Gesamtkuntswerk, that the music of Gustav Mahler is as close as human beings get to expressing the ineffable, that God listens to Mozart in his spare time, and that Bach is history’s greatest genius.


  1. Undecided on Katz, opposed to Kant. And there are children who need a good kick in the head. In any case, both of the ads are definitely superior to what we are getting in Texas.

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