Most civil people would agree that political ads should never be vile, vicious, or vulgar but informative, instructive, and inspiring. Negative ads are very desirable and necessary to have an informed electorate. Most Americans never read anything except the sports page and comic page and watch reruns of “I Love Lucy” for the 18th time so they need to get all the information they can before they vote. That means candidates should hit their opponents hard, hit them early, but don’t hit them below the belt.
Some non-thinking do-gooders have advocated a ban or government control on negative ads but that would be tragic. What about the Bill of Rights? The viewers are thought to be too wimpy to hear vivid, vigorous, even vicious political ads yet modern television shows and commercial ads feature vulgarities and nudity!
Nevertheless, the general opinion (so I will almost automatically believe to the contrary) is that negative ads are so distasteful, disgraceful, and deleterious that they should be illegal. I don’t defend untruthful, uncouth, or unethical ads, but I do want to know the truth about the candidates without any spin. Just the facts, please.
If a candidate is a bum, I want to know; however, if he is illegitimate, I don’t care, After all, he can hardly be blamed. Almost every family has one in the shadows. If a candidate is distasteful, I don’t care; however, if he is a drunk, I want to know since that will affect performance. If a man is ffastidious, I don’t care; however, if he is a fornicator, I want to know because if he will break his marriage vows, he will break his promises to the voters. If a man is poor, I don’t care; however, if he is a pervert, I want to know because if he is so dumb as to misuse his personal organs, then he will misuse his office. If a man is uneducated, I don’t care; however, if he is undisciplined he will be a poor leader. If a man is handicapped, I don’t care; but if he is a political hack, I will vote against him. If a man is crude, I don’t care; but if he has character, I will vote for him. I don’t care if a man is listless; however, I do care if he is lazy. That goes for men and women!
Negative, truthful, hard-hitting ads are a great service to everyone. It is easier to make intelligent decisions about politicians if we know a great amount of information, even negative information, about them. If the voters want officials who are drunks, deadbeats, druggies, and deviates, then they have a right to elect them. (And have done so, in spades.) Likewise, if I want decent, honest, family loving, patriotic, hardworking officials, then I have a right to choose them. I also have a right to convince those in my sphere of influence to vote for those I think are preferable.
It is dishonest, disreputable, and divisive for politicians to lie or even distort his or her record or his or her opponent’s record, and voters should be intelligent enough to know those who are aggressively honest and those who are aggressively dishonest. Dishonesty is easy to recognize in Democrat, Republican, or Independent Liberals–if their lips move, they are lying.
This administration is the most incompetent, inefficient, irresponsible, immoral, and inept in American History. No exaggeration. So bring us more truthful, negative ads. I don’t want any more hope and change. Most Americans have lost all hope and are left with only a little change.
Some have declared that this is the nastiest election in history. But they overreach and overstate the issue. Other political elections have been far worse!
The editor of the Aurora called George Washington a hypocrite, a fool, a liar, a coward, a tyrant, and a murderer, and Hamilton was “the Judas Iscariot of our country.” Alexander Hamilton’s affair with Maria Reynolds was used against him. Tom Paine hoped George Washington would die telling him “the world will be puzzled to decide whether you are an apostate or an imposter, whether you have abandoned good principles or whether you ever had any.” Paine had been a valuable patriot during the war but ended up being simply pathetic.
Does it really matter if a candidate is bright, bold, and brave or careless, crass, and craven? Yes, it matters to me. History provides many examples of character making a difference. Aaron Burr was the most controversial of our Founding Fathers even though he served as Vice-President, U.S. Senator, and a valiant officer during the War. He is noted for killing Alexander Hamilton in a duel having lost his chance at the Presidency because of Hamilton. Burr’s problem was not a lack of courage but a lack of character.
Burr despised Washington as a “man of no talents and one who could not spell a sentence of common English.” Men of Burr’s caliber should be careful about making offensive judgments of other men especially men of stature. Cheetham’s American Citizen reported that his (Cheetham’s) staff had a list of “upwards of twenty women of ill fame with whom [Burr] has been connected.” He had another list of married ladies who were divorced due to Burr’s seductions as well as “chaste and respectable ladies whom he has attempted to seduce.” Burr could spell but had a character problem that resulted in zipper problems.
George Washington couldn’t spell, but he didn’t seduce!