You’ve probably noticed something different between your favorite “Must See TV” shows over the past couple of weeks. Ominous music. Greyed out screens. Aggressive negative attacks. Election Day is coming and we’re getting our yearly dosage of negative political campaigning.
Nowadays, people think of politicians as slimy, heartless, money-grubbing crooks. The spurt of negative attack ads that fill the airwaves during the weeks before elections do nothing to eliminate these impressions.
It’s no surprise that voters are losing interest in politics when the average level of discourse is no more than name calling and mud slinging. The point of attack ads may be to disgrace the opponent that is being discussed in the ad, but these ads really disgrace all politicians and turn people away from the campaigning process.
Attack ads do not add any real information to the political conversation. A debate allows each candidate to explain their points of view, and rebut the claims of their opponents. Negative campaigning only provides viewers with skewed, if not false, information and there is no way for voters to get any alternate information. These ads prevent, rather than foster, debate by making exaggerated claims about people’s personal and public lives that are so inflammatory the opponents don’t even want to respond to the accusations.
When voters look to select a candidate, they want to know about positive policy changes that the candidate will make once elected. What they are not looking for is how good a candidate is at digging up dirt on another person. Despite the popular portrayal of politics, campaigns should be run on values and hard facts. Negative campaign ads weaken the standing of the politicians who use them, and weaken the face of politics as a whole. Voters who care about the future of American politics should make this request ? Run ads that talk about the positive qualities you have, not what qualities your opponent lacks.
Vote next Tuesday, but vote from intelligence, not ignorance.