In the gubernatorial candidates’ final debate before the general election, Governor and Republican candidate Sean Parnell brought up a very good topic for discussion – civility in campaigns and the current lack thereof.
This particular issue was brought up because of a comment made by Congressman Don Young when Parnell ran against him in the Republican primary for U.S. House awhile back.
During the campaign, Young referred to Parnell as “Captain Zero.” Young went on to win the campaign by only a few hundred votes, but in a recent debate between Young and Democratic candidate Harry Crawford, Young said that Parnell should kiss him, because Parnell is now governor.
The “Captain Zero” and kissing comments resurfaced in the gubernatorial debate, which prompted Parnell to express his, and most likely other candidates’, disdain for the personal attack campaigns that are waged and have become increasingly prominent during election season.
What is troubling about this is that calling someone “Captain Zero” does not even rank among the worst things said in campaign ads.
Take write-in candidate and incumbent Lisa Murkowski’s recent ad that contains interviews with people from Sitka who will not be voting for Democratic candidate Scott McAdams, which essentially trashes him, speaking about his character, experience and whatever else that might destabilize his campaign.
Though nothing extremely derogatory is said in the ad, it is still a personal attack that really does not focus on the issues, which all candidates seem to say they focus on, but really do not.
Most candidates express that they want to focus more on the issues and less on the personal attacks. But, what happens every election is that exceedingly few candidates are actually willing to take the high road and veer away from these attack campaigns.
Crawford’s campaign for U.S. House has basically been built on attempts to trash Young. Sure, a couple of ads have mentioned his issues, and his issues have also been brought up in debates and interviews. But, if one is to judge campaigns based solely on the advertising, the real issues would be difficult to discern from the attacks.
This is definitely not saying that Crawford’s is the only campaign to take up this style of campaigning, but during this election season, it is among the most prominent.
It’s apparent in people’s decision making, at least in many cases, that they don’t necessarily vote for a particular candidate. Instead, they are voting against other candidates.
An attack campaign ends up dragging both candidates through the mud, so to speak, because if one candidate attacks another, it is only natural to respond. This is not really a new problem. It has been going on in one aspect or another essentially since the country was founded. But, campaigns need to take a turn towards addressing the actual issues, rather than the opposition.
Sure, there will probably always be attack ads of one kind or another, but it would probably be in everyone’s best interests to minimize that and especially not base entire campaigns on it.
All this is really resulting in is uninformed voters and also contributes to the general lack of confidence in the government in America.
These vicious battles don’t tell voters why we should vote for a particular candidate, they tell voters why they shouldn’t vo