The other night, I attended the Murray Chamber of Commerce’s “Meet the Candidates Night”. It was a great event and a great chance for the various candidates to introduce themselves and their platforms. One of the questions I was asked had to do with negative campaigning, specifically from the Republican party criticizing two of the incumbent Democratic Representatives. Both have served multiple terms in the House and are well-respected. I was asked if this criticism was hypocritical as Senator Hatch has served even longer.
We have all been inundated with negative attack ads, at the national, state, and local levels. I think everyone is fed up with it--and rightly so. It’s tragic that rather than positively describing our plans for how to improve government and solve the problems we’re dealing with, many politicians focus on perceived negative traits or unsavory past rhetoric of their opponents. Most of this negativity flows from party affiliation, with Republicans pouncing on opportunities to attack Democrats, and vice versa. This kind of campaigning distracts us from the big issues such as healthcare reform, jobs and the economy, and improving education. This kind of quarreling is anathema to the bipartisan cooperation that is essential to finding the right solutions to our nation and state’s very serious concerns. It was immensely satisfying to observe, after months of negative ads from both sides, Pres. Obama and Mitt Romney speaking cordially and graciously to one another at the Al Smith Dinner recently. They acknowledged each other’s families and individual strengths. We need more civility, common sense, and respect in our political discourse. That is the difference between politics and statesmanship.