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: hit them hard, hit them early, but don’t hit them below the belt.
The non-thinking do-gooders are clamoring for a ban on negative ads but to suggest a ban is incredible. What about the Bill of Rights? Television shows and commercial ads feature vulgarities and nudity yet the viewers are too wimpy to hear vivid, vigorous, even vicious (but true) political ads!
However, 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 even unkind 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 a bastard, I don’t care. After all, he can hardly be blamed. Every family has one or two in the shadows. If a candidate is distasteful, I don’t care; however, if he or she is a drunk, I want to know since that will affect performance. If a man is fastidious, 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 unimpressive, 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 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.
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 my sphere of influence to vote for those I think are preferable.
It is dishonest, disreputable, and divisive for a politician to lie or even distort his record or his opponent’s record, and voters should be intelligent enough to know those politicians who are aggressively honest and those who are aggressively dishonest. That is easy to know about Democrat, Republican, or Independent Liberals; if their lips move, they are lying.
This government 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 worst election in history; but they overreach and overstate the issue. Other political elections have been worse!
The editor of the Aurora called George Washington a hypocrite, a fool, a liar, and a coward, a tyrant and a murderer, and Alexander Hamilton was “the Judas Iscariot of our country.” 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 a pathetic pain in the posterior.
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, who killed Alexander Hamilton in a duel (Burr lost his chance at the Presidency because of Hamilton), is the most controversial of our Founding Fathers who served as Vice-President; U.S. Senator; and valiant officer during the War. His problem was not a lack of courage but lack of character.
Burr despised Washington, characterizing him 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 had a character problem that resulted in zipper problems.
George Washington couldn’t spell but he didn’t seduce!