It would appear that negative political campaigning is becoming a staple of politics.
In the last few years I have noticed an increase of mud-slinging and the deliberate spread of negative information about a party and/or its members in order to damage the public’s perception of them … And it works! It doesn’t matter if the message is motivated by an honest desire to warn others of any real danger or deficiencies, or if it is part of a campaigner’s dishonest means of winning the vote.
It is perhaps that this method of campaigning is so successful that it pisses me off.
What happened to our political representatives informing us, the voting public, of their policies? Or, if they are in power, of confirming the details of what was actually delivered in line with their original election policy? Nope! It appears none of that matters, because the voting public is now so disenchanted by what politicians and parties are offering they instead vote for whoever they like least. It’s a race to the bottom.
While it might not be anything new (the United States’ most recent presidential campaign, anyone?), it struck me hardest during the recent Queensland state elections.
Listening to ‘Mornings with Steve Austin‘ on the radio following the election, his guest, Amanda Newbery — a former journalist and now managing director of Articulous, an engagement and communications consultancy firm — really hit the nail on the head, as far as I’m concerned:
“I find it [negative campaign messaging] the most appalling example of how we should behave in a community; it turns people off politicians… We expect more from our leaders and potential leaders. I don’t know whether it’s this culture of thinking you can win something by running campaigns which are actually name-calling. I just find it incredibly childish…”
Newbery went on to say that such negativity and the call to ‘put another candidate last’ on the voting paper is not endearing and it does not give the voter anything to vote for.
“If you’re voting for the negative you are actually not voting to be inspired,” Newbery said.
I present the following two advertisements run during this state election, the first is the campaign advertisement run by the Labor Party…
The second is an advertisement run by the Liberal National Party…
Nothing particularly positive in either of those two advertisements, is there?
The media, and I think it’s fair to say all forms of media, is of little help to a voting public also. Voters rely on what is published by the media to help them make an informed decision, but it appears many outlets (not all, finding the goods ones are tricky though) are unable to uphold the basic principles of ensuring that the factual information in news reports is accurate and not misleading, and there appears to be little fairness and balance in political reporting — especially around election time.
I’m fed up with the bombardment of messages telling me that candidates, sitting politicians, the government as a whole is corrupt, incompetent, or a failure.
I want to know what a party stands for. I want to know that a candidate knows what the party stands for and how things will be done. I want to hear about policy. I want to hear about the things that have been achieved during a term and why things weren’t delivered. I want honesty. I’m old enough and have been voting for long enough now to be able to handle it.
There is consistent talk of ‘change’ and how voting a particular way is a step towards fixing something that is broken, but this obsession with beating voters over the head with negative campaigning is actually preventing us from getting ahead; from finding good candidates to enter politics and instead all that’s left are the ones who turn mud-slinging and name-calling into a profession of sorts. To think that this negativity stops once the votes have been counted and the winner declared would be wrong. A look at parliament question time confirms this.
If I carried on this way in my place of employment, I would be swiftly shown the door.
As a voter, not only do I expect more but I damn well deserve it!