Candidates for public office are littering the airwaves with blistering attacks on their opponents during this primary election season. For my readers from around the world, election ads in the United States are opportunities to have candidates lie more and more about their opponents rather than talk about their own record. Lies about their own record come much later when they try to justify their own seat.
In case you haven’t picked up on it, and I’m sure that you have, I am pretty jaded about campaigns for elected office. You see, when I observe vicious attacks on an opponent by a politician, I assume that they do not have enough positive things to say about themselves. Negativity does not move the needle for me on candidates. I look for their own accomplishments, abilities and plans for improving things for their constituency. If all they have to offer is poison about their opponent, I assume that they are incompetent, and that they believe the voters are also incompetent.
If you have been a reader of my blog over these years, you know that I have a principle of “It is better to go toward the good than avoid the bad”. This holds true in mental attitude, business and leadership decisions, and with how people are motivated in general. We get energized in seeking the higher good. We get worn out running from the negative and hurtful.
This is true in all dimensions of life, so in political races it also holds true. Don’t try to get me to vote for you if all you have is poison, negativity and even lies about your opponent. Tell me what good you bring to the table, and I might listen. Otherwise, save your advertising dollars.
I am not naïve either. Research seems to bear out that negative advertising works. Yet, just because the tactic works does not make it right. After all, one of the candidates is going to win, and our opinion of them is already tainted with months of attacks and often falsehoods about them. How does that help us to gain respect for our elected officials?
So, consider this when you are trying to size up the candidate for whom you will cast your vote. Consider those candidates (if you can find them) who promote their own ideas and their own qualifications for the office- not those whose only plan is to poison the well on your opinion of the opponent.