Sometimes I wonder if I am the only person who feels that the American political landscape is becoming more of a ridiculous three-ring circus than a sophisticated and issue-based debate. Too many Americans are so distracted by peripheral issues that they can’t focus on what is really important.

Take, for example, the most recent election. Despite the fact that our country is at war, many Americans instead choose to focus solely on the same-sex marriage debate. The Republican National Convention sent out mass mailings to Arkansas and West Virginia with the word “banned” over the Bible and the word “allowed” beneath a picture of a same-sex couple. “Liberals want to impose their values on Arkansas,” it read. “Open this up if you want to stop them.” I’m not saying that the Democrats are innocent of smear campaigns, but is such fear-based propaganda entirely necessary?

In the next ring, we have the likes of Michael Moore and Ann Coulter throwing temper tantrums and using grade school insults against anybody who disagrees with their agenda. Conservatives are homophobic rednecks and liberals “hate America.”

On top of that, we have the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth running television campaigns to discredit Sen. Kerry’s service in Vietnam, while CBS finds questionable documents about President Bush’s service in the Air National Guard. Most recently, pro-choice demonstrators in San Francisco hurled coat hangers and condoms at pro-life demonstrators, with the pro-lifers responding with chants of “baby-killers.” When I step back and take a look at what politics has become, I can’t help but wonder, “Why do I even care anymore?” It seems that political arguments today are so devoid of intellect that they have become worthless. I have honestly tried reaching out to people with different beliefs. I even talked to two guys in the College Republicans about a group on campus that debates political issues. Their response?

“You can’t talk to mainstream liberals.”

As a moderate Democrat, I am actually interested in what the other side has to say. However, I am not interested in hearing people on both ends of the political spectrum whine, cry and hurl insults at one another in hopes that ad hominem attacks and emotion-based appeals will accomplish anything. Why am I writing this column? This is an appeal to anybody with a shred of common decency and interest in arguing your side to stop such ludicrous means of expressing yourself. Open your mind to the other side of the debate and don’t get distracted by side issues and turn to ad hominem attacks. Most importantly, think before you speak. Quite frankly, I’m getting sick and tired of watching grizzly bears on unicycles and midget clowns distract me from the real issues at hand.

Brigid Kirlin is a junior global studies major.