Politicians like to tell you they are going to run a respectful campaign. After all, they like telling people what they want to hear. How many people will admit to saying that they want to hear slander about their opponent?
And yet, time and again, politicians resort to negative ads because as long as the campaign season is, as lazy as people are to verify what is being said, that's how effective negative campaigning works.
If you ask someone that is going to vote Republican what they think about Obama, they'll have numerous negative opinions and say he's wrong for the country. If you ask an Obama supporter their opinion on McCain, they are likely to say the same thing. Indeed, most people seem to hate the opposing party's candidate more than they love their own.
Lest you think that this phenomenon is restricted across party lines, consider the rather lengthy primary between Obama and Hillary. At the end, Obama supporters hated Hillary and Hillary fans hated Obama. This wasn't a collegial competition between two friends, but two adversaries. The fact of the matter are the two voted quite similarly on a number of topics.
OK, so the one big difference was their stance on the Iraq War. Obama wasn't a senator then, although Hillary was. Nevertheless, he could point to his stance then (and there's a video of him saying he was against the war).
How can we solve this problem? One way, that would never work, is to allow the opposing parties to approve ads. However, if that were done, there would never be any ads allowed. These days, they try to force the candidate to say "they approve the ad" so at least the candidate can't claim ignorance that the negative ad was done without their knowledge (even if it was done without their knowledge).
Until voters can demonstrate that they vote for a candidate's positive side (and even then), then negative ads will continue to air. And yes, they air because they work, because people won't check whether these ads or true or not, and because they will make decisions based on your middle name.
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1 month ago