Mud slinging and politics go together like apples and apple pie. Politicians of all persuasions, parties and ideologies have been throwing the dirty stuff at each other and trying to make it stick as long as there have been candidates for office. That’s not unusual, and negative campaigning has become a hallmark of many national, state and local races this election season. And it seems to be getting worse.
As Election Day nears, the pressure to win increases, and the campaigns and political action committees that have no direct relationship with the candidates seem to shift from a message of here’s what’s good about our candidate and here’s why he or she deserves your vote to here’s what’s bad about our opponent and here’s why he or she should not get your vote.
During this election cycle, some of these negative materials bear a slim and slight relationship to the truth or the facts at hand. Every voter should be concerned about the veracity of some political speech. Neither California law nor the Fair Political Practices Commission regulates truthfulness of political speech — an impossible task at any time (especially with the First Amendment and freedom of speech), but especially in the crush of an upcoming election.
Regulation of political speech from the outside will never work — the candidates must be free to speak their mind on the issues. Rather than try to corral that speech or simply complain about the system that’s now in place, the newspaper simply challenges all the candidates and political action committees to dedicate themselves to providing the very best and most accurate information to the voters who will cast their ballots to elect our public officials and set our public policy.
These smear campaigns remain the kind of dirty politics everyone disdains and loves to hate. They have a chilling effect on every election.
The people deserve better from those who seek our vote for their candidates and our support for their causes.