Think Freely Media presents Common Sense with Paul Jacob

Negative, Positively

Negative space, positive space, election, Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump

In art class, students learn about “negative space,” how positively one can react to artistic representations and indications of absence, of the space between objects, “blank” space. This land of shadow and reified Absence can have a powerful impact on our perceptions.

Well, behold, the piece of work that is major-party politics in America, 2016.

Usually we pretend that our elections are about what we approve of, about who and what we are for. But this year, with Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton the likely nominees of their respective parties (Ted Cruz having pulled out after being trounced, Tuesday, in the Hoosier State, and John Kasich, likewise, yesterday morning), the positive spin on negativity will ramp up to new levels. As Anthony L. Fisher observed primary night on, Trump and Clinton are the most- and second-most hated major party politicians ever, polling the negatives “even higher than 2004-era George W. Bush.” (Who won.)

With the negatives of both candidates looming so large, is it too obvious to take note of the high likelihood of an extremely negative campaign coming up?

Maybe we should gamble on the terms of opprobrium that will be let loose:

Traitor, incompetent, corrupt crony-pushing insider, harpy of modish feminism….

Buffoon, racist, corrupt crony capitalist, chauvinist of the vulgar tongue….

Into this negative space we can expect a rush of interest in minor-party challengers, Libertarians and Greens. Protest votes could hit new heights. And they might make a difference.

But can anyone really profit from such negative space? Color me dubious.

This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.

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Negative space, positive space, election, Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump


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  1. Pat says:

    what will make this campaign any different from the last ten? Votes for Liberals and Greens might hit new heights, but they won’t be enough to make a difference. Even Bernie Sanders is an independent in name only. He would have zero power in the Senate without caucusing with one party or the other. We might need a new party but it has to replace one of the top two. Otherwise all you do is divide the electorate into smaller chunks, making it that much easier for special interests to maintain control.

  2. Paul Jacob says:

    Pat — There’s more than one way to skin a cat, and this cat is so overgrown that it might take a combination to skin it. I like Ranked Choice Voting and proportional representation within our non-parliamentary system, for instance, and reforms like term limits.

    But I think you raise a very important point: our system leads to two parties. If both major parties are rotten, we have no effective choice, I spoke with several people today about how the Republican Party could be re-vitalized. I’ll be writing more about the structural problems holding people back from having meaningful parties. Please let me know what you think.

    And thanks for making a good point.

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