Archive for Saturday, October 2, 2004

Ad nauseam

Voters have the ultimate control over negative campaign advertising

October 2, 2004

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Maybe reality programming isn't at the bottom of the television spectrum anymore.

That's because a new season of campaign television ads has begun. Some of them are making headlines of their own because of claims that candidates are leveling unfair attacks or making untrue accusations. By the time the campaigns are over, Democrats will be just as guilty as Republicans. Unfortunately, when it comes to nastiness and campaign distortions, neither party has a monopoly.

It would be nice if politicians changed their tactics, but that seems unlikely. A more realistic approach is for us to change. We need to start viewing campaign television commercials for what they are -- drivel.

The commercials are the most biased pieces of information presented in a campaign, and they are of little or no value in helping voters separate fact from fiction. Worse yet, they tarnish the image of what should be a respected career: public service.

It would be refreshing if candidates would have the courage to simply say they're not going to play the commercial game, but that is unlikely in this age where most of our politicians care far too much about winning and far too little about everything else.

So it is up to us to create change. One step may be to write, call or e-mail your favorite candidates and tell them that negative television commercials are making it less likely, not more likely, that you'll vote for them. Maybe then they'll see the commercials are an unwise use of their money, although money management hasn't always been a strong suit of politicians.

Some people would rather just change the laws so politicians and "outside" interest groups are more limited in their ability to run the campaign commercials. The problem with that idea is it severely dents the First Amendment. It would be a shame to let something so lacking in value as a campaign commercial damage one of our country's most valuable ideals. After all, if we're so ignorant that we believe everything we hear in a campaign commercial, no law will save us.

So, let's start by letting candidates know what we think. If you don't have the time or energy to make a phone call or send a letter, don't despair. You still have the power to create change, and it likely is right at your fingertips.

It's called a remote control.

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