Cleaning up political campaign discourse?

The recent discussion of the Hixon mailing in an ongoing Senate special election contest raised a good question about the issue of the responsibility candidates have when outside groups involve themselves, sometimes in ways that confuse voters. This can happen when, as Hixon did, a misleading appeal alleging the candidate has control over these attacks is sent out, or when, as we saw in the recent Beaufort House special election, the acts of rogues may have actually hurt the one they intended to help.

Well-intentioned efforts to reform campaign finance to reduce the influence of special interests and well-heeled campaign backers have failed, and possibly even backfired. An ever-growing web of laws and regulations have made it easier than ever for those who want to conduct irresponsible attack campaigns to get away with it. The public, confused by the complex webs and loopholes within which the attackers operate, often mistake who is behind such campaigning, and end up blaming the wrong campaigns for the trash.

Post-Watergate campaign finance reforms didn’t work, and McCain-Feingold didn’t either. It stands to reason that putting patches on top of the existing patches will fail as well, so we’re not going to advocate fixing today’s problems at the price of empowering the next generation of scofflaws and political hustlers.

But make no mistake about it – the public sees growing negativity in political campaigns, especially television, and they’re sick of it. They have every right to be.

Many of us in the political arena want to help the public become informed about candidates and issues through the dissemination of truthful political advertising, while making sure the right parties are held responsible for the trash that floods our airwaves. We want to talk about the truth in a fair manner, even when it’s not always nice, but we certainly don’t want to deluge our communities in sludge either.

So how can we make things better? How can we make campaign discourse more informative, constructive and respectful?

Come on everyone, let’s speak up and be heard …

4 Response to "Cleaning up political campaign discourse?"

  1. Mike Reino 11/10/07 01:37
    Discourse or datcourse. It may be later than your musical taste, but I'll quote Live's White, discourse.......I warned you, I prepared you, I instructed you, I told you what to expect...

    Sorry, I saw discourse and I lost my noodle.
  2. west_rhino 11/10/07 10:32
    Earl, it seems just as likely that some outside groups may float a mail piece, a blog, talk show calls, et al with the express purpose of damaging the campaign of the candidate they pretend to support.

    Ditto the use of some obvious push polls positing innuendo as candidate questions.

    Convoluted, yes, unethical, yes, despite possibly staying just inside the edge of the law. Dirty tricks still are available, having DEA bust the guy with all the street money in cash has a delightful savor of irony to it.

    Mayhaps we need someone in a crossed finger costume to follow and heckle Hillary over the "I don't recall" and "I don't remember" answers in Whitewater and other cover-up testimonies, like the "Chicken George" proto moveon.org types used in the early 90's
  3. not a duncan hunter fan moye 13/10/07 23:28
    get used to it
  4. Anonymous 14/10/07 19:14
    get used to what?

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