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“Going Negative”

January 13, 2008

What is it about politics that makes people think a discussion about a candidate’s record is “going negative?” Take for example actor-Senator-actor Fred and the Reverend-Governor Mike. Neither candidate is substantially different than the other on topics such as the role of the military, foreign policy, social issues or taxation. Fred talks about Mike’s record and he’s accused of “going negative.” Mike fires back – and throws in a barb about Fred’s intestinal tract needing a little help, in the form of Metamucil. The mainstream media frame Fred’s commentary on Mike as negative. The same media characterizes Mike’s criticism of Fred as good natured humor. Neither is what I’d consider “going negative.”

The former First Lady turned Senator and her current enemies, Senators Barak Obama and John Edwards are every bit as eager to use descriptive language when talking about each other. The candidates’ positions are not that different, with one noted exception. Hillary and John originally supported the unconstitutional transfer of power to the Executive Branch, and then later claimed they only voted the way they did because they were lied to. Barak opposed that aggressive military action, but would have instead used that power to invade Pakistan rather than Iraq.

My point is that candidates draw contrasts between themselves and their opponents by comparing records and positions. That is not in and of itself “going negative.” Pointing out the flaws in another’s position is healthy dialog. Many years ago, I was taught that it was appropriate to attack an argument (the idea or position), not the person. I haven’t heard any candidates discussing the marital fidelity, rumored sexual preference, criminal activity and such. That’s what I call “going negative.”

The purpose of primary elections is to draw distinctions between candidates of the same party, not the other party. The relative strength or weakness of a candidate’s record and position on significant issues will ultimately manifest itself in the form of votes. It is important that the best candidate in each party is the one selected.

Once you see that there are differences, I strongly encourage you to do the type of homework I’ve repeatedly described in missives past. Listen to the rhetoric, closely examine the pro and con of each issue – and each candidate’s position, then research each candidate’s record. We’re all busy in this work-a-day world and there really isn’t a lot of time to listen to talking heads telling you their interpretation of what somebody else said. So, power down the “plug-in-drug” and do your homework. Make an informed decision before going to your polling place.

Let freedom ring!

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One Comment leave one →
  1. Sheree permalink
    January 13, 2008 3:54 am

    Nice 🙂 I agree.

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