Vote to combat negative ads

Our friends at the Concord Monitor recently editorialized about the assault upon New Hampshire residents by the hundreds of negative political ads that blanket our airwaves. Here is some of what the Monitor said:

“The Wesleyan Media Project, a multi-college effort based at Connecticut’s Wesleyan University, rated the ads in New Hampshire’s governors race the least positive in the nation; those in its Senate race among the nation’s most negative.”

Now there is a “We’re #1” to which any state should aspire: the least positive gubernatorial ads in the nation. More so than Florida with its Fangate? Afraid so. Wow, we could have a new state motto:

Feel Negative in New Hampshire.

More from the Monitor’s editorial:

“The ads being run, many of them paid for by outside groups at both ends of the political spectrum, are mostly negative because negative ads work – unless they go too far or tell outright lies – and then they backfire. Negative ads also work to depress turnout because they increase the public’s already more than ample disgust with politics and politicians.”

That’s the really frightening part: Negative ads work. This is despite the fact that the vast majority of American voters, when asked, say they hate negative ads. But the ads work. But we hate them. But they work. But … Oh, never mind.

But we should mind, especially we should mind the loathsome tactic of politicians who decry negative ads and, when it is pointed out to them that negative ads are running against their opponents, say, oh, well, yes, but, they’re not our ads, some outside group is running them and we have no say over such things, chuckle, chuckle.

Really? You mean, Candidate Jones, you couldn’t just pick up the phone and call Johnny’s Amazing Super PAC and say, “Please stop running those ads against my opponent. They’re loathsome.”

Of course any candidate could do that but they don’t and their excuse is, well, their opponent will continue running negative ads against them and, gee willikers, that’s just not fair, boo hoo.

Couldn’t somebody, just once, emulate Teddy Roosevelt who said, “I’d rather be right than president”?

We tend to think of such ads as national or state-wide rather than local but over the years, things like this have risen in the Souhegan Valley just before election day. Not television or radio ads, but fliers, often colorful, sent to voters at the last minute so that the person or persons they target have no chance to reply, no chance to repudiate the charges.

Those who send them out also seem to wait until just after The Cabinet’s last edition before the election, knowing, we think, that should we get our hands on them, we would excoriate those who sent them and suggest that you vote for the person being attacked.

Now that’s simplistic, of course, but given the negativity of campaigns, even here with such fliers, and the contention of so many of us that we hate negative ads, perhaps that is the only way to send a message:

If you get a flier from local Candidate A attacking local Candidate B just before the election, send a message by voting for Candidate B and try to find some way to let Candidate A know you did it because of his or her odious flier.

What else can we do? Sitting out the election is not an option. Even those who don’t like any candidate for a particular office must vote. If you know several people who dislike both candidates for an office, see if you can organize yourselves to all vote for a particular write-in candidate. If enough of us do it, at least the town clerk will have something to tell newspapers when they ask for vote tallies.

If a write-in gets 25 votes for, say, senator, any town clerk will report that, and so will we. That’s an inherent message.

And it’s a lot better than just sitting on the sidelines.

Just remember this: The more negative a campaign, the more you can be sure that the candidate probably doesn’t have anything to offer.