Changing my Screen Name: The Voices of Negative Political Ads
Because of all the noise generated by bloggers and candidates in the primary elections, it was tough to hear civility gasping for air. Virtually every where a voter went they were treated to negative ads, anonymous attacks and groups without any identity all on the attack. It wasn’t always that way.
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There was a time when you had to use your real name to attack someone, when a negative ad almost always backfired on the person sending it and a group called “Citizens for a Better Tomorrow” was just suspicious enough to be ignored.
I admit that I have produced a few negative ads for candidates and while it never feels quite right, if done well they do seem to work. I would like to think I have kept the ads I’ve produced inside the boundaries of what’s accurate and fair, but I understand that’s for others to judge.
I do know that many are so far over the top that they lack credibility. Suggesting that Al Lawson was personally responsible for insurance rates in Florida, as indicated in an Alan Boyd commercial, is such a stretch that I don’t think voters bought it. I remember a TV ad a few years ago suggesting that Bob Rackleff was responsible for high gas prices because 13 years earlier he had worked to stop a petroleum pipeline. I certainly had my issues with Rackleff, but I doubt any voters bought that one.
I think it’s fair to say that neither Rick Scott nor Bill McCollum was anywhere close to being the person that the other suggested they were, but it didn’t stop them from spending millions to keep trying to convince us that they each were just two horns and pitchfork away from being the devil.
Bloggers have added a new dimension to the political landscape. Now you can just make up a name and with complete anonymity say just about anything you want about just about anyone. Truth, rumor or just good old suspicion…give yourself a fake name and you can go after just about anyone. There’s something about hiding behind a handle that just feels wrong to me. I have no problem with anyone saying their piece; I just think they should have the guts to put their name behind it.
The numbers say that negative advertising works. As long as that’s the case I think it’s fair to say that it’s only going to get worse. But I would like to think that there is still a glimmer of hope out there that it backfires in some future campaign and we actually make a statement that we don’t want to see it anymore.
Until then I am changing my screen name to Mr. Happy so I can write things about Steve, Sean and Robin without fear of retribution.