Run civil campaigns - Word&Way

Run civil campaigns

The fall political races are set, from the U.S. presidency on down to state and local levels. We’ve finished the primaries. Now it is time for sorting through campaign promises and other information and making informed ballot decisions.

A lot of bloggers are joining editorial-writers and others in lamenting how harsh campaign commercials and campaign speech has been during the primary season and early on in the November elections.

It seems to me that one problem these days — and maybe it always has been so to some degree — is that voters have to sort through the political code words, voting records, campaign slogans and a mountain of other information to determine exactly what each candidate believes and where he/she stands on issues important to the electorate.

Voters have reasons for feeling they cannot trust politicians because answers that should be clear often aren’t. Candidates misspeak — and their opponents misspeak. We voters have to do our homework to determine where truth actually dwells and in whom truth-telling resides.

What we experience in times like these is words that come across as clanging cymbals and not as reasoned, clear statements of conviction and position on the issues of the day.

Many voters enjoy this activity of candidates taking pot shots at each other. But most of us ask, “Where is the civility?”

We all know a candidate cannot be as good as he describes himself or as bad as her opponent describes her. Many voters, especially in our multi-party system, find themselves voting against a candidate more than voting for a candidate. They resign themselves to choosing between what in their minds is the lesser of two evils.

Candidates — even imperfect ones — who transparently let voters see who they really are and what they stand for are certainly more admirable to me than those who do all they can to demean opponents in hopes that they themselves will appeal more palatable to voters.

Surely elections at every level of public life are too important to be played out like third-rate television reality shows.

True public servant leaders show respect for opponents and voters. They are civil in speech. They are people we can respect both as candidates and as elected leaders.

We voters can require a level of civility in elections. We’ve settled for something less for too long.