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A political pounding

Two years ago the phrase "I approved this message" quickly became seared into our country's psyche. Heck, even people hiding under rocks in a cave have heard that spoken on a political advertisement at some point.

The law that required candidates to deliver the phrase started - at least in part - in an attempt to stem the tide of negative ads. The thought was that if candidates had to personally approve an ad, it would be more focused on what they hoped to accomplish while in office rather than lambasting their opponent for what he may have done wrong.

Great idea in theory. Just watch five minutes of television today, and see how well it has worked.

It hasn't. At all.

The ads this year have been particularly appalling, in my opinion. After the candidates trumpet their approval of the ad, viewers are treated to such venomous statements as the ones that follow:

"So-and-so's tax-raising ads are more in a line of bold-face lies."

"Such-and-such is giving away government positions for personal financial gain. Someone like that doesn't deserve to be our (insert elected office here)."

And "John Doe is huring our seniors and children."

Do negative ads like that really work to do anything other than keep people away from the polls? I've heard so many people during this campaign season say they were doing just that, not voting because of all the attack ads.

I'm sick of them too, but that won't keep me from exercising the right for which so many people fought throughout the years. Instead, we need to send those negative candidates a message. Don't elect them.

I know that's tricky because, to a certain extent, they all support negative ads. Here's what I propose: Keep a running tab on the number of those ads for each candidate and rank them on a negativity scale.

After that it's simple. Vote for the candidate with the least number of harsh, attack ads. Keep electing the ones who attack the least, and eventually everyone will get the message.

I don't see what's so wrong with just telling the people what you plan on doing when elected. I know they end up overstating their plans and going back on promises. But it's so much more constructive than trying to shoot down another person who has feelings and a family that watches television.

Maybe it's just me, but when I see a negative ad, I envision the opposing candidate's mother watching TV, jaw to the floor, traumatized at what she's just heard. Candidates should use that as a test. If it wouldn't be approved by their opponents' mother, then it shouldn't air.

I believe we can do better with our political ads, and that's why I approved this message.

Web posted on Thursday, October 26, 2006

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