FOR WHAT IT’S WORTH
|By: Ron Brounes||
Tis the season…the political campaign season, that is. March Madness has officially begun, and with it comes the primary elections, where die-hard Republicans and Democrats head to their local polling places in “droves” to cast ballots for their favorite “would be” representatives. The winners of the primaries hit the trail running, fundraising, campaigning, fundraising, bashing opponents, fundraising, fooling the public, and fundraising all the way to the November elections. In reality, “droves” typically translates into about ten percent of eligible voters. The remainder are either too busy, too lazy, or too turned off by the process to exercise their civic duties. And who can blame them?
WHO DO YOU LIKE?
Elections seem to grow more and more nasty with each passing season. Years ago, the public focused on candidates’ experiences and qualifications, their visions for the future. Friendly debates were held, so that voters could learn about the issues, analyzing opposing points of view before making educated decisions about the candidates. Those “friendly rivalries” have given way to negativism, deceit, and personal vendettas.
Many people vote for candidates, not because of their perspectives on issues, but rather because of their list of endorsements. Countless voters stroll into the booth with mailers sent by organizations telling the public whom to cast their ballots for. I recently read where one candidate made a charitable contribution to a worthy cause which was supported by a well respected political figure. A standardized thank you letter was sent stating something to the effect, “because of you, the community is in better shape” and signed by that popular politician. The candidate then used that quote, totally out of context, in campaign materials, thus, implying that she was supported in her election by that well known individual.
IF THE NAME FITS…
Labels are often placed on candidates merely because of party affiliations. Unfortunately, voters often choose representatives based on such labels without even knowing the first thing about any of the candidates. Hardly a campaign speech can be made, or a commercial run without the negative connotation derived from the term “liberal.” Last I checked, Webster defined “liberal” as “giving generously; tolerant; open-minded; favoring democratic reforms and individual liberties.” Why is that considered so bad? Likewise, today many candidates want to be known as “conservative” which is defined as “favoring private enterprise and freedom from government control.” Not bad either. Then again, wouldn’t one who favors “individual liberties” also favor “freedom from government control”? Apparently not. Other fine terms like “extremist,” “radical,” “right or left wing” are loosely thrown around to paint negative pictures in the minds of the voting public.
Personally, I believe that most politicians and candidates, for that matter, make the worst public speakers. Their messages seem to always be the same; often they have no messages. The majority of the campaign speeches I have heard lately focus on the negative aspects of the opponents as opposed to the positive attributes of the candidates themselves.
I recently attended a rally for a candidate I was thinking about supporting. She had an impressive group of endorsers who each stood up to say a few words on her behalf. Instead of praising the candidate and emphasizing her background and experience, her vision for the future, each speaker bashed the opponent with a hateful message that I found quite offensive. In the end, I learned absolutely nothing about the candidate I had gone to meet that night, and left with another bitter political taste in my mouth. Such turnoffs greatly contribute to those 90% of eligible apathetic voters staying away from the polls. My point is, (finally) while this rhetoric may very well have been accurate and even somewhat appropriate in a strong partisan setting, such negativity comes across as petty and mean spirited. Occasionally, it backfires and actually generates sympathy for opponents. If nothing more, it certainly provides free publicity and more attention for the other campaign.
In my opinion, the primary message within any campaign speech should stay positive and focus on the candidate him/herself. I’d like to think that most people would rather vote FOR a candidate, than AGAINST another. Give the voters a reason to like you; impress them with your experience, knowledge, and vision; dazzle them with your wit, charm, and personality. Smile, kiss a few babies, shake a few hands, and forget about the negativism. It really becomes “unbecoming.” In reality, the candidates who impress me the most occasionally praise their opponents (of course, nothing too major). They maintain an attitude of “my opponent is a decent person. I just happen to be better qualified for this position.”
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FOR WHAT IT’S WORTH is a liberal publication of Brounes & Associates focusing on conservative business marketing and general communications strategies. Please call Ron Brounes at 713-432-1910 for additional information. This material should not be considered an endorsement for or condemnation against any political candidates. Feel free to carry this mailer into the booth to assist in your decision making process. That is, if you vote.