Why not try results over attacks?

Published 12:00 am Sunday, August 5, 2012

What would happen if politicians decided to attack the problems facing our country as vigorously as they do their opponents? How would things be if they — somewhat literally — put their money where their mouths are?

I have to think it would be a better world to live in.

Political season is just starting to heat up but candidates from both parties, in big races and small, are spending truckloads of money on political advertising that is often far more about attacking the opponent than explaining what an individual brings to the table.

Email newsletter signup

If just one major politician — someone running for U.S. Senate, House of Representatives or, God forbid, even the presidential seat — would take a bold step it could be the start of a systematic change in how campaigns are operated.

Instead of running political ads I would like to see the candidate use those thousands, and in many cases millions of dollars, to make a difference in the communities of their potential constituents.

They wouldn’t need to advertise because the word-of-mouth and free publicity would be way more far-reaching than any television ad spouting off about someone’s voting record that could be interpreted a variety of ways or how awful someone else is.

With the November election still about three months away, the presidential candidates, the PACs and other interest groups have already spent just short of $270 million in advertising as of Aug. 1, according to the Washington Post.

That is just the presidential race. Add in all the other political races and the spending would be even more sickening.

How many hungry children could we feed with even a portion of that $270 million? How many sick people could we provide with potential life-saving medicine? How many communities could be helped with projects that improve the quality of life there?

This approach would be replacing a negative system with a positive one. Guess what, a whopping 74 percent of the advertisements are negative attack ads.

We lament the negativity in our communities, but what do we expect? That is the message being sent by our leaders and our entire political culture.

Obama has spent $77.9 million, with more than $46 million of that going toward negative advertising messages. Mitt Romney is no better, spending less money but a higher percentage, with $32 million of the $47 million spent going to attack the president.

Maybe I am naive, but if even one major politician would have the guts to lead by example, I think we could change the approach.

In the end, all that most politicians care about is getting — and staying — elected. If they can make a positive impact on the way to office it might help make up for the fact that most fail to do much once they get there.


Michael Caldwell is publisher of The Tribune. To reach him, call (740) 532-1445 ext. 24 or by e-mail at mike.caldwell@irontontribune.com. Follow him on Twitter: @MikeCaldwell_IT.