With the campaign in its final stretch, we can expect a barrage of negative advertising. But what is negative advertising?
It isn't legitimate criticism of the opposite candidate or his positions. The problem is that political discourse gets contaminated with ideologies and extreme partisanship. Both parties are guilty, and they let surrogates carry the dirty ball. I think of the swift boaters and the slandering of Gen. Petraeus.
Ideology places horse blinders on a person. Yet increasingly since the 1990s it has driven our politics. It generates hatred for the other side. Look at the opposing camps on the abortion issue. It muddles thinking. Consider this: if youíre an ideologist, you believe the positions of other side have no merit whatsoever, and they think the same of what you say. Guess what? Youíre both rightÖ and youíre both wrong. And the American people are sick of both of you.
Negative advertising is insinuation of base motives, implications of gross unworthiness for office, exaggerated emphasis on supposed character flaws. Itís attacks on the candidatesí spouses. Itís forecasts of doom if the other party gains or continues in office.
In short, negative advertising is the putting forth of stupid but inflammatory ideas that can be whittled down to sound bites endlessly and sickeningly repeated.
God help us.
Negative advertising is known to be effective --- because WE have let it be. Letís stop that. Letís close our ears to such tripe. Letís pay attention to real issues and vote accordingly.