On her Facebook page, Sarah Palin said,

We have witnessed something very disturbing this week. The Republican establishment which fought Ronald Reagan in the 1970s and which continues to fight the grassroots Tea Party movement today has adopted the tactics of the left in using the media and the politics of personal destruction to attack an opponent.

Palin is right of course.  The Democrats have long been the party of personal destruction.  However, in this year’s primaries the Republicans are cannibalizing themselves with the same tactic.  It would be easy to stop there and put the blame entirely on the politicians and their operatives.  But the key to wisdom is never to cease asking why.  So then, why do politicians first disparage then engage in personal attacks?  Because it works.  Why does it work?  Because it’s human nature to give a certain measure of credence to an accusation without demanding proof.  We have all heard the axiom that where there is smoke there is fire.

One more reason why personal attacks work is because it’s the headlines that carry the accusations and a headline reaches more people than does the substance that follows it.  Most voters don’t inform themselves fully and objectively on both sides of a story before making a judgment.  In a democracy, everyone gets a vote.  It is our response to them that makes them successful.  We are the force behind the personal attacks.  Not you or I of course, but it’s us.

Winston Churchill was aware of the weaknesses of Democracy when he said “Democracy is the worst form of government… except for all others.”

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