To the editor:
Political smear campaigns are nothing new. Candidates seek to make themselves look better by making their opponent appear worse. Many voters are unaware of the political candidates except for what they see on television. In this respect it is a goldmine for opposing parties to focus on their rivals’ shortcomings and educate the voters on their character or lack thereof.
Character is an essential part to how political candidates are viewed. Without character there is nothing to recommend that a candidate fill the position of president. By degrading the character of the rival, a political candidate can possibly ruin the other’s hopes for presidency.
Mudslinging, as it is commonly called, is defined as efforts to discredit one’s opponent by malicious or scandalous attacks. Many choose to sit out and vote for neither candidate, tired of the unethical name-calling in campaigning. If credibility were restored overall in political campaigning, maybe these non-voters would be brought back.
While the smear-campaign style may be effective in degrading the rival contender’s character, it can also, depending on the factual evidence, be harmful to the party paying for the ads. John Arbuthnot said: “All political parties die at last of swallowing their own lies.” If an ad is harmful in nature but does not use evidence to support the claim, it can backlash onto the sponsoring candidate’s character — in effect making them swallow their own lies.
Instead of scandal and gossip being the main tool to discredit a politician, it would be beneficial if truthfulness were the order of the day. Elections would be more clearly cut and navigable for voters.
Politicians would have to spend more time doing the right things themselves rather than sleuthing out the mistakes of their opponents.
Overall, it would bring integrity to campaigning that is severely lacking at this point in time.
Character would be based upon actions, not hearsay, and voters would be able to make informed decisions of which candidate they wish to support.
Just as our legal oath says “The truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth,” — truth as a campaign tool is the severe opposite of what is presently being utilized.
A compromise solution to benefit both parties and voters would be to replace smear ads with factual information and for candidates to spend more time talking about their own character instead of their rivals.