The constant drumbeat of blame-game messages has reached an overwhelming proportion with last-minute attempts to scare and/or persuade voters. Instances of negative campaigning among candidates are so widespread that to single out any in particular would serve no useful purpose. This general attack-style politics has infected our local campaigns.
Rather than articulating positive platforms, too many of the campaign messages are instead warnings about the evils of the opposition. We’ve all seen the campaign lawn signs and received the daily doses of campaign mailers and phone calls, many containing aggressive, offensive messages against their opponent. The negative campaigning polarizes people around their reaction to the negativity rather than around the important issues. I know that we should not expect a campaign season of only polite, hands-off discourse from candidates seeking to send each other to defeat. However, knocking the opposition, though, has become the easy, fast-lane method of campaigning – a thinly veiled scare tactic to earn credit by discrediting the other side.
Opposition research is a natural part of any political campaign, which is only compounded by people constantly giving us the “inside scoop” on an opponent. There is pressure on all sides to let voters know “the truth” about their opponent, especially if that person has already gone negative in the campaign. Call me naïve and foolish, but for every minute a candidate spends attacking his/her opponent, that’s one less minute that can be spent talking about legitimate differences on policy issues that actually affect us, the voters.
After enduring a heavy season of negative campaign advertising, the need for us to participate in Election Day has never been greater. The politicians have not been very good at policing themselves, so it’s up to us, the voters, to do it for them. Your vote does matter; but only if you use it. I’d encourage everyone to do their own homework about the candidates and the issues. Look past the negative campaigning and the party politics – make an informed decision when you vote tomorrow.
Personally, I’m looking forward to post-Election Day … no more campaign mailers or invasive robo calls at dinner time and the removal of yard signs littering the local landscape (at least for the remainder of 2014!)