A PASSIONATE CALL FOR A RETURN TO POSITIVE POLITICAL CAMPAIGNING

Back in 2006, several members of the Quad Cities clergy joined Rev. Ron Quay – the Executive Director of Churches United of the Quad Cities Area – and me in putting out a call for a return to a positive focus when it came to political campaigning.  Below is a petition document that we compiled and which, in its final form was co-sponsored by the Quad Cities Progressive Clergy and Churches United of the Quad Cities Area.  We did get the support of our local media, both electronic and print.  In fact, it was published in both of the local papers.  Unfortunately, out of a local population of some 350,000 people at the time, we only were able to amass some 400 signatures.  That low number was quite disappointing, considering how much complaining we hear from the public about negative campaign ads.  We attempted to put it forward again, in 2008, in anticipation of the Iowa Presidential Caucuses.  Once again, while we received media and clergy support, we were disappointed with the lackluster response from the community.  With the nominating conventions of both political parties not that far away and as the 2012 Presidential Political Campaign season is about to begin in earnest, I thought that I would share with the readers of this blog, the text of our hopeful and heartfelt petition.  Back in 2006, one reporter asked one of my colleagues whether or not he thought that this effort was a bit Pollyanna-ish.  My colleague responded by saying, “Yes, but what is wrong with that?  Sometimes people have to be fools for truth.”  My personal prayer is that when it comes to negative political campaigning, one day the good people of our country will rise up and with a loud, strong voice, proclaim:  “ENOUGH ALREADY!  We want our candidates to speak honestly about themselves and stop denigrating their opponents.”  I share with you our original petition, for whatever it is worth:

We, the undersigned, are deeply disturbed by the character and tone of the vast majority of political campaigns which are being conducted during the election season of 2006.

The overwhelming use of negative campaign strategies and attack ads constituted nothing less than a national disgrace.  Negative campaigning erodes the moral fabric of our society.  In the eyes of the public, it not only diminishes the stature of the candidates, but also the importance of the offices which they seek.  Such campaign tactics generate an environment of distrust of public officials.  Even worse, by forcing the voters to choose between what is presented as “the lesser of two evils,” these strategies serve to dramatically discourage citizen participation in the electoral process.

The American people need and deserve far more from its political candidates.  We need and deserve to have the candidates’ attentions focused on positively presenting their positions on the pressing issues of our day.  We need and deserve to hear thoughtful dialogue between the candidates on these issues.  We need and deserve to know what our potential future leaders stand for, and what they intend to accomplish should they be elected.

Therefore, we the undersigned, believing that negative campaigning is destructive to the American democratic electoral process:

  1. Call upon political candidates to responsibly present to the public their own positions on the pressing issues of our day, refraining from irresponsible and misleading interpretations of the positions held by their opponents.
  2. Call upon political candidates to cease and desist from attacking the character of their opponents.
  3. Call upon political candidates to distance themselves from and denounce any political ad run by an independent source which supports their candidacy, but which also engages in the destructive practices mentioned above.
  4. Call upon the American public to withhold financial support from political campaigns that engage in a strategy of negativism.
  5. Call upon the news media to monitor and report upon the successes and failures of political campaigns to adhere to these principles.
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Explore posts in the same categories: American Politics, Churches United of the Quad Cities, Negative Political Campaigning, Political Campaign Rhetoric, Positive Political Campaigning, Quad Cities, Quad Cities Progressive Clergy, Rev. Ron Quay

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2 Comments on “A PASSIONATE CALL FOR A RETURN TO POSITIVE POLITICAL CAMPAIGNING”

  1. John Liming Says:

    It will never happen as long as Citizens United stands and all that money can be pumped into campaigns. We are looking at the first time in history when an American Political Office can be purchased by the highest bidder. It does not bode well for the Democratic Republic and there certainly is no room in such a competitive atmosphere for any positive campaigning.
    http://theamericanliberaljournal.com

  2. ravkarp Says:

    I do not believe that it is the money that corrupts the process. It just facilitates it. What keeps negative political campaigning alive is the electorate itself. As long as the voters buy into the negative campaign ads and as long as those who claim to be offended by it remain silent and do not raise their voices in unison and say “Enough Already! Stop slapping down the other guy and start telling us why we should be voting for you!” then this disgusting practice will persist. If we start telling the candidates and the parties that we will not be voting for those who spread toxin instead of information through their political campaigns, then those who run the campaigns will be convinced that negative campaigning works. Once they get the message that negative campaigning will only come back to bite their candidate and lower his/her esteem in the eyes of the voters, then they will begin to take their massive amounts of money and invest it in sharing with the electorate all the positive qualities of their candidate, rather than the negative messages about their opponent. WE CAN MAKE THE DIFFERENCE!


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