Negative Political Campaigns are unDemocratic

As mid-term elections approach I am receiving more and more negative campaign literature with nothing said about the candidate and a lot said by the opponent, all very unflattering.  Somehow negative campaigns turn me off as I am getting older but unfortunately I see how effective they can be.  But they are very distracting and confusing as political campaigns tend to be.

Its all a game of deception like advertising a new product for sale.  They highlight all the things that will entice you to vote for this or that candidate.  They also tell you with even more conviction how Evil the opponent is and how voting for such a person will destroy whatever government body the candidates are running for.

With PACs and Super-PACs and now the ability of rich individuals and corporations to contribute almost endless amounts of money to their favorite candidates, parties and voting issues as part of free expression political campaigns are very big business.  And as such candidate hires very pricy spin-doctors whose job it is to make their candidate look godlike and their opponents look like pure evil campaigns get uglier and uglier.  Most political consultant spin-doctors don’t care which candidate or political party hires them.  They do it for the big bucks and they are very good at spinning and twisting the truth or faults-hood to look any way that makes their candidate shine and the opposition the worst thing that ever lived.

Once the negative campaign mudslinging gets started each candidate in turn must up the mudslinging a notch with each flyer or TV ad.  Less and less is said about what candidates stand for and what they will do if elected and progressively more ugly things are said by all candidates about one another.  When we vote we vote more against a candidate than for one.

So who knows what the facts are any longer since so much is about the evil opposition.  And with all the negative campaigning who knows what the real issues are or what the candidate stands for since so much campaign literature says absolutely nothing about the issues or candidates themselves.  When I get such hateful negative campaign literature and know nothing about the candidates themselves I am tempted to vote for the candidate who does the least amount of negative campaigning all things being equal.

We have a Congressional seat race in my district which is very contentious.  The new candidate whom I met several times and corresponded with at first seemed very convincing and knowledgeable with a great background.  I was slightly favoring him over the incumbent, whom I had previously voted for, until this new candidate started sending out nothing but vary inflammatory negative campaign literature and email message.  I ended up sending him a message that if he continues the negative campaigning instead of discussing issues then I wanted him to remove me from his email list which he did.

I will likely vote for the incumbent now not only because of the negative campaigning but also because the incumbent is a senior Congressman with a seat on the Appropriations Committee.  But he is aging so the new candidate looks like a good replacement.  The new candidate’s negative campaigning made my choice easier.  Of course the incumbent, after sending out more informative campaign literature, stated to retaliate with his own negative campaign so both candidates are slugging it out.  So in the last days of the election no real information is getting to the voters.

This is truly a tragedy that Democracy is no longer about the truth about candidates but about winning.  That is why we have a Congress that is so inept.  That brings into question whether we have a true Democracy or not.  The basis of a true Democracy is that the electorate is well informed.  I question whether we are well informed or simply very misinformed.  I suspect the latter is far closer to the truth.

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