Political campaign ads do not have to be nasty, crude, cruel, vicious, and ugly. They do not have to be attack ads. More and more, however, that is exactly what they are. I do not watch television, so I am spared the worst of it and see only what flits across my radar on the internet, which is bad enough. Take, for example, this one …
Disgusting, isn’t it? But it seems to me that in general, candidates are making a huge mistake, because they are not focusing on themselves, rather are focusing on putting down their opponents. This is pointless. So, I composed the following letter:
Dear 2018 Candidate,
I sit here, some six months before the November mid-term elections, and I am assessing the candidates, not only in my own state/district, but across the nation. In attempting this exercise, I find it very difficult to like you, and thus will almost certainly find it difficult to vote for you in November. Please listen to what I have to say, for I believe that I speak for the majority of We The People. You remember us, right? We are the ones whose votes you need and to whom you will be held accountable if you should be elected, just in case you have already forgotten.
Don’t tell me why I should not like your opponent, tell me instead why I should like you! And I don’t mean that you should be wearing a butt-ugly shirt made from a U.S. flag, for that is a turn-off in itself. And I don’t mean that you should have a gun strapped to your belt … another definite turn-off. You will not impress me with tough talk, or by riding your horse into town. And you do not need to raise your voice! Yes, I am hard of hearing, but I have closed-captioning on all my devices, so I can know what you are saying without you screeching like a banshee.
Now, what would I like to hear from you? I would like to hear your views on the issues facing the nation today: gun regulation, immigration, taxes, education, foreign policy, poverty, health care, the economy, and a number of others. I would like you to use your words, as we tell our children, to help me understand what your platform is. My vote, either for or against you, will be based on how closely your views match my own, and if you don’t use your face time to put forth your views, I cannot know what you think, thus I cannot and will not vote for you.
When your entire campaign is based on criticizing your opponent(s), it indicates to me that you do not have a very strong platform, or perhaps have no platform at all. Perhaps, rather than spend your time trying to dig up ‘dirt’ on your opponent, you should spend that time thinking about how you would improve our public schools, how you would vote on a health care bill that cut funding for children living in poverty, or how you would consider a tax bill that benefits mainly the already-wealthy. These are the things I care about.
I also care about your own values. I am interested in knowing where all this money you are spending on television ads is coming from. Are you beholden to the NRA? To the fossil fuel industry? Are you likely to be vulnerable to blackmail for a string of past sexual affairs? Or worse yet, are you likely to be accused by women (or men) of sexual harassment? If you answered yes to any of these questions, you should just go home now, for you are not fit to sit in the Capitol.
If you only want the votes of those who are not well-educated enough or politically savvy enough to understand a political agenda, then you are on the right path. But if you want the votes of the thinkers, the people who understand how government works, who have read the U.S. Constitution, then you need to change your ways. If you believe – honestly believe – that you can make a difference, that you can do some good for this nation, then please do us all a favour and set on a path to prove it. Design serious ads, don’t mention your opposition, tell us who you are, how you think, and why you believe you are qualified for this job.
This is my advice … take it or leave it. But be advised that I will not vote for you if the focus of your campaign is putting down another candidate. I will not vote for you unless I have a good feeling about who you are and what you stand for. And not only will I not vote for you, but I will do my best to discourage others from voting for you as well.
During the 2016 presidential election, I did have a television in my bedroom, and I turned it on first thing every morning, as soon as I got my glasses on so I could find the remote. By the time I got dressed and made it downstairs for my coffee, I was already outraged by the inanity of the political ads on both sides of the fence. I thought it was about time somebody tells these people that mud-slinging is not savvy campaigning. Your thoughts?