When I watched Obama's campaign unfold in 2008 I was struck by the absence of negative politics. It allowed me to distinguish something important and valuable that I hadn't before. I haven't been able to listen to politicians in the same way since.
For me, politicians - the ones that belong to the party in power, and the ones that belong to the party not-in-power - are there to make a difference. They probably wouldn't be in politics if they weren't, because it isn't an easy career choice. Always in the public eye, every decision critiqued and found wanting by one segment of the population or another.
If you want to make a difference, is the best approach to criticize what someone else has done? Everything I know tells me not. Yet it seems to be the approach politicians choose.
I see lost opportunities in every newspaper article I read that ends with a comment from the Opposition critic. I can't think of one where something meaningful was said. In most cases, there's mud slinging along with the pointing out of the flaws in whatever the particular action was. No other possibilities suggested. No independent thought.
The voice in my head says: Actually SAY something. Don't just criticize the decision. What about being part of a solution?
What would it be like if our politicians said 'Well, I appreciate that was a tough decision. I think they could have looked at some different options. What about [this], did they take a look at it to see if there were some opportunities there....' Or, 'if it were us, we would have...'.
You get the picture. I, for one, would have a lot more respect for them as leaders.