Archive for Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Clean campaigns

It takes more than an early pledge to run a clean, respectful political campaign.

June 18, 2008


A recent Associated Press analysis column suggested that a Kansas candidate for U.S. Congress might gain an advantage with voters by pledging to run a "clean" primary and general election campaign.

The candidate correctly asserts that voters in Kansas and elsewhere in the nation are tired of divisive politics, but defining and adhering to a pledge to run a "clean" campaign is harder than it sounds.

What constitutes a clean campaign? The definition obviously is colored by whose side a partisan voter is on. Certainly, it would be focused more on issues than on personalities. It would refrain from personal attacks and the use of unflattering images. Most of all, it would be a campaign where candidates deal with each other in a respectful way and depend on facts, rather than spin or innuendo, to make their case for re-election.

The candidate promoting the clean campaign pledge specifically suggested that he and his opponent refrain from mentioning each other by name in ads and speeches, which seems like an odd approach. Respectfully mentioning an opponent by name wouldn't be a negative tactic. Conversely, it's certainly easy enough to attack an opponent without calling him or her by name.

Another problem with promising a clean campaign is that a candidate only has to speak for himself or herself. Usually, the most underhanded campaign attacks are engineered by political action committees that technically aren't controlled by the candidates. Such attacks are easy for candidates to disavow.

Unfortunately, the history of our politics shows that no matter how much we decry negative campaigning, the fact is that dirty politics wins races. It's relatively easy to say at this early stage in the race that you want this to be a clean and respectful campaign. As the election draws closer and candidates become more desperate, however, it's much harder to stick by that pledge and not use a negative tactic that could gain the few extra percentage points that could mean victory.

Even if candidates took a pledge to run a clean campaign, their resolve probably would go out the window as soon as they could point to an opponent's unfair attack and say, "He (or she) did it first."

Could a candidate who truly took the high road gain an advantage with voters? Probably so, but actions on the campaign trail will speak much louder than the words of a clean campaign pledge.


Richard Heckler 9 years, 9 months ago

Ryun has been in Kansas politics long enough and we do not need him back on the tax dollar payroll. Isn't this the guy despises big government yet loves the paycheck and the great medical and retirement benefits. The same could be said for Pat Roberts. The same could be said for Jim Slattery. Remember all that talk about self imposed term limits hmmmmmmm.Vote Lee Jones for U.S. Senate Support new faces in our legislatures!!!Want green collar jobs,alternative energy, jobs back to america and healthcare for all? Fire 95% of all incumbents! Jim Slattery is an incumbent then a lobbyists :. A super insider!Why is it Americans cannot elect a representative instead of a name from corporate america? What is the romance? Why do americans fall over themselves for political media stars and fat cats? Have we not learned that these people NEVER make things better they just continue the corporate welfare and watch american jobs go abroad. It really stinks!Vote Lee Jones for U.S. Senate news media and corporate america do NOT need to decide who OUR candidates should be for local,state or federal level representation.The media takes in a ton of cash during our election periods and play a huge role in selecting candidates for all sides of the aisle. Then THEY decide who should participate in televised debates as if no one else matters to the voters. Yes they also seem to decide which issues are important to voters and many times miss the mark. Vote Lee Jones for U.S. Senate media has become a large part of the special interest takeover of our process as if they know what is best for all of us. Voters support this takeover by voting for those candidates who also spend the most money and the question is why?Vote Lee Jones for U.S. Senate go too long,spend way too much money and do not necessarily provide the best available. It is up to us to stop the nonsense at the voting booths on the 2008 ballot.Not voting sends the wrong message and changes nothing.Lets's demand a new system and vote in Fair Vote America : a change on the 2008 ballot.The big money candidates are more beholden than ever to corporate special interests due to the very long nature of campaigns. How do they have time to do the job they were elected to do? We need public financing of campaigns. Citizens cannot afford special interest money campaigns for it is the citizens that get left out.Vote Lee Jones for U.S. Senate would be against Public Funding? The special interest money providers and their bought and paid for politicians!

WilburM 9 years, 9 months ago

Way to go, Merrill. turn a perfectly reasonable editorial into a campaign screed. Are big money candidates always corrupt? Maybe they can just raise $$$ (Obama?). And a candidate that can't raise $$ may simply not be capable of becoming competitive, no matter how much his or her ideas seem to be attractive. And re public funding? It may well be that the Constitution raises some problems with Public Financing, no matter how you slice it. But hey, you've got the answers -- in this case laying out a conventional "big money" argument (with no facts) and backing a well-intentioned but unelectable candidate. Go at it.

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