Spotting the good guys

While 2013 is not an election year, candidates are already busy raising money for the 2014 campaign season. Planning has begun for congressional, mayoral, gubernatorial and other races. Results have just been released for the most recent fundraising period.

So we’d like to ask potential candidates – and the independent political action committees that back them – to foreswear the attack ads that seem to dominate modern campaigns.

Every election year we write at least one editorial – usually many more than that – condemning these ads.

We are much more attracted to candidates who extol their own virtues instead of attacking the other folks in the race. Despite poll after poll showing attack ads work, we have an innate sense that most people would rather vote FOR a candidate instead of AGAINST one.

Perhaps that is naivete on our part, but we always wonder about the motives of any group that spends thousands of dollars ripping apart someone with the guts to run for office. The next time you see one of these ads on TV, ask yourself: Why aren’t they talking about what their candidate will do if elected instead of trying to scare me away from his opponent?

After 40 years of watching elections from a media viewpoint, we think candidates and campaigns can be summed up by three axioms:

1. People who fail to present positive ideas in advertisements don’t have any.

2. Nasty campaigns are run by nasty people.

3. A candidate who will do anything to be elected – or let things be done in his name – is not worthy of your vote.

There are good, honest candidates in both parties and on every side of every issue. Spotting them is easy – the good guys debate their opponents. The bad guys debase theirs.

(Portions of this editorial have appeared previously in The Maui News.)

* Editorials reflect the opinion of the publisher.