Every election year, there's always those who take things a little too seriously and play like there is no tomorrow. For such people, anything goes, including dishonest criticisms, personal insults and mudslinging.
This is the kind of trash that makes potential voters cynical about the political process. In most occupations and lines of business, if people believe that your product or service will deliver what they want, they buy it or offer you a contract to provide it. The realm of electoral politics should work the same way - but all too often, it doesn't.
Instead, we've learned more about Newt Gingrich's divorces than we ever want to know, Jon Huntsman's loving act of adoption has been turned into an ideological sellout, Romney's religious beliefs are used to question his fitness to hold office and we've heard more than we want to know about a candidate's last name being related to a sexual term.
But the lowest cheap-shot we've heard this cycle has been by those who've judged the reaction of the Santorum family to the loss of one of their children, which we discussed last week in some detail.
These kinds of personal cheap shots are simply inexcusable and they're the number one reason why we can't wait for January 22nd to get here.
Does this website engage in criticisms of candidates? All the time. But we stick with analysis of facts related to their conduct in public office, not their personal lives. We'll never stoop to drag you through messy divorces, tales of wayward teenagers, personal dramas, and other kinds of personal stuff. But if you drive dangerously, threaten the public with your conduct or abuse your powers and/or trust for your benefit, you may get called out on it here.
Don't bother sending us the personal dirt on someone because it won't show up on this blog. If they had a messy divorce, a stupid youthful indiscretion or did something "off-the-clock" with other consenting adults, it's none of our business.
As with any profession, those who work in politics should set high standards for accuracy, ethics and professionalism - and they should lead by example. The candidates have a role in this, but each and every staff member and volunteer needs to make that committment as well. Anyone who doubts this should look and see that many of the articles written on this blog about the Presidential campaigns have focused on stupid pet tricks by volunteers and staff members, not by the candidates themselves.
South Carolina will be in the spotlight for a few more days as the voters assess the candidates and make their decisions about who to support. Those of you working for candidates should remember that voters will be watching your conduct as well and that conduct will affect their choices on Election Day.
Knowing the brass-knuckles history of South Carolina's Presidential primaries, there's no point in asking all of you to play nice, because the relevant facts and issues aren't always nice and people here take the state's role in picking Presidential nominees darn seriously.
However you choose to campaign for your candidates over the next two weeks, you owe it to yourself and those around you to play fair and conduct yourselves in a professional manner that will make voters feel good about their choice and make others want to work with you in the future.