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Attacking attack ads

By: Jeremy D. Wells
Carter County Times

It’s that time of year again. You can’t turn on the television, or even stream television through online services, without seeing political ads – and the worst of those are the attack ads. Mitch attacks Amy. Amy attacks Mitch. A so-called “non-partisan” group sponsors an ad attacking Amy again. And so on, until I’m ready to pull out what little hair I have left. 

I wish there was a way to avoid it all, but short of taking a three month break from television, radio, and print media, it’s unavoidable and inevitable. 

It’s a lot of negativity, and I have to wonder if these sorts of ads don’t end up costing candidates more votes than it earns them. I know there have been times I’ve considered not voting at all for a candidate I had planned to support, simply because of the negativity of their ads. 

It would be wonderful if candidates actually ran on what it is they are going to do, rather than on stoking fears of what “the other guy” might do. I understand the importance of setting yourself apart from your opponent. When they’ve been in office for 30 plus years, there are going to be plenty of decisions to be critical of too. But most of us already know when we don’t like the incumbent, and we already know why we don’t like them. Or, we already know why we like them and are going to support them. 

For an incumbent, running attack ads against your opponent seems especially puerile. If you can’t find something you’ve done in your career to run on other than attacks against your opponent, I’m left wondering what you’ve been doing with your time in office. (Other than being courted by lobbyists and lining your own pockets, that is.) 

Honestly, though, in our already fractured and factionalized political system, attack ads are really just a reminder of how far we’ve fallen. They’re a reminder of the rancor and partisan bickering that plagues a system where “compromise” and “bipartisan” have become dirty words. They’re one more intrusion of ugliness in a world where we can’t escape the bickering – even when we try to watch a sitcom. 

Jeremy D. Wells can be reached at editor@cartercountytimes.com

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