Editorial: Tune out election season noise

Published 10:54 am Tuesday, May 29, 2012


The 2012 presidential election has already provided enough material for several semesters of civics lessons. One of the most interesting, however, may relate to how well Americans can tune out the noise of competing political messages. It is an election when Americans are going to have to be particularly careful to screen out the rhetoric and focus on the facts if they want to cast their vote wisely.

Recent estimates are that nearly $1 billion has already been raised by, or on behalf of, the two major presidential candidates; that money, and millions more, will be used in an attempt to pound campaign messages into Americans’ heads. And for the most part those messages will be all about how terrible the two candidates are; a comparatively small percentage of the messages will actually come directly from candidates and speak directly to the candidates’ own qualifications. It will be a wonder if, come November, any voter will be able to stomach either candidate.

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There is, however, an effective means to counter this tidal wave of negativity: Ignore any campaign message that is not directly from the candidate and which does not speak directly to that candidate’s own qualifications and beliefs. As we learned four years ago, and four years before that, attack ads take many shapes and forms, some of them as elaborate as entire books written to besmirch a candidate. Seldom, if ever, do candidates attack personally; they usually hide behind anonymous committees. Ignore any message from a committee. When candidates do attack, they will refer to other candidates as “my opponent.” Ignore a message that includes the words, “my opponent.”

There will be a lot said about the candidates over the next few months. The wise voter will listen only to what the candidates have to say about themselves and their plans.