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Inbound traffic to downtown Detroit where sidewalks are packed with people is increasing thanks to blockbuster events like the Detroit River Days Festival. The one-of-a-kind festival along Detroit’s riverfront attracted thousands of visitors last weekend, lured by such attractions as tall ships, towering sand sculptures, live concerts and various other family-friendly activities.
Music headliners included national acts such as Boyz II Men and the Whispers, in addition to local favorites like the Howling Diablos and Thornetta Davis, who performed amidst dozens of street performers, aerialists, jugglers and dance acts.
This effort and others, headed by Detroit RiverFront Conservancy President and CEO Faye Alexander Nelson, have helped reinvigorate interest and enthusiasm in Detroit’s riverfront.
Nelson has quietly managed to raise capital investment topping $300 million since taking the helm in 2003. She has overcome formidable barriers, barriers that have crushed others who have attempted to sustain such urban promotions.
Her efforts deserve our gratitude and applause. Detroit is a better place in which to work, live and play, as well as a more welcoming place in which to conduct business, due in large part to the Detroit RiverFront Conservancy and Faye Alexander Nelson.
Beyond negative campaigning, candidates owe voters facts
By Lena Epstein Koretzky
Society loves risks. We love the feeling, the rush of our heart beat, the heat tingling throughout our body, from the bottom of our toes, to the core of our chest. Risks are exhilarating and uplifting, they are the jolt of energy that builds up, only to explode with the high of euphoria or deflate with the low of disappointment.
I’ve always considered myself a risk taker. As a student in Cambridge I spent a brief weekend with girlfriends attempting my luck at poker. Although never having played the game, I was confident in my ability to succeed.
Although I brought to the table a top-notch poker face, I focused far too much energy worrying about my girlfriends’ hands than my own. In my methodical attempt to dissect my opponents’ every breath, hand gesture, or eye twitch, I would end up convincing myself that I knew more about their hand than I did my own. And that’s what I played to. Sometimes I would get lucky, but more often than not I would lead myself down a road of misguided decisions.
I lost $84 in my weekend pursuit of poker glory.
Needless to say, my passion for poker never came to fruition and I will not be watching the World Series of Poker on ESPN this summer. Instead, I will focus my time following another game, an exciting game, a competition that holds many similar traits to the game of poker and impacts us all: politics.
If you’ve ever been looking for a time to start following politics, the cards that will unfold this summer are sure to be entertaining. Like poker, politics is a game of calculated risks, a game that runs on big money and involves a sophisticated state of the art “poker-face.” As Barack Obama and Mitt Romney enter the final table of this campaign season, their heads-up play will see them analyzing not only their own hands, but also each other’s. Money will be spent and risks will be taken.
Besides the potential ‘campaign worker turned mistress’ or secret sexting scandals, it should be fairly easy to predict an opponent’s hands at this level of presidential politics. As a political sommelier, I’m less excited with discovering which candidate can read their opponents hand, as I am with what each candidate will do with that knowledge.
Unfortunately, if history has its way, both candidates will continue a long standing tradition of negative campaigning, focusing less on their own strengths, and more on their opponents’ faults. America risks the possibility of going to the voting booth in November and casting a ballot not based on which candidate has sold themselves as having the better hand, but on who has sold their opponent as having a worse hand. There is a difference and the latter brings a greater risk.
Although there is always the exception, when a candidate campaigns on their hand, the strengths and experiences that make them the most viable candidate, they are more inclined to focus on the realities and truths behind why they made the decisions they made and hold the beliefs that they believe. Naturally, they have a firsthand knowledge of their own experiences and philosophies and thus can more intimately articulate the facts.
From a political perspective, we could call this “acceptable boasting with a purpose.” But when candidates focus more of their campaigns on their opponents, the realities that should make up a campaign become distorted and convoluted. The substance that allows one to speak truthfully about their own experiences becomes exaggeration and misleading to one attempting to speak truthfully about their opponents.
One of the most successful campaign ads in American political history was the “Daisy Girl” commercial run by Lyndon Johnson. Reacting to comments from Johnson’s Republican opponent that he would consider use of nuclear force with regards to Vietnam, the ad depicted a little girl playing with a daisy, followed by a sudden change of screen to a nuclear bomb exploding. Highly controversial for 1964, the ad was immediately pulled, but not before news organizations picked up the film to run in their evening broadcasts. In the end, Daisy Girl is considered a key reason why Johnson won that election.
As negative as Johnson’s campaign ad was, and as a taboo as it was for 1964, it worked. Almost 50 years later, negative campaigning is more common than ever in campaign politics, almost a pre-requisite to any candidacy, quite simply because this method helps people win. Negative campaigning won’t go away; as long as candidates want to win, they will inevitably always continue to use this in some capacity.
But the modern voter has an advantage over the 1964 voters. With modern technology and the ability to obtain quick, credible and factual information, the voter has a more enhanced ability to learn about the candidates, both from their campaigns as well as a multitude of other outlets.
Voters need factual information to judge each candidate independently on which one can deliver a more promising four years for America. And although I could spend time urging each candidate to mitigate their negative campaign advertising, I also am a realist. Instead, I will urge each voter to mitigate their risk in choosing the right candidate. Do your research, become informed, and get behind the candidate that truly represents the best hand.
As we enter the final table of the political World Series this summer, make an effort to look beyond the poker faces. Choosing the wrong president is a risk that America cannot afford to take.
Lena Koretzky is a political observer and advocate.
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