Confronting the rise of negativity in politics


Photo courtesy of Tim Evanson

With the midterm elections taking place recently, many candidates started using the typical tactics that have become commonplace in these heated campaigns – putting out commercials and advertisements all over TV and on the internet. However, they went the route that you see everyone go with these ads, which, instead of focusing on the candidate who sponsors the ad, they actually end up focusing on the opposing campaign. These ads were focused on trying to make the other candidate seem as if they were incompetent. In Maryland, we saw Ben Jealous and incumbent Larry Hogan put out these videos on TV. This ad, which aired during the months leading up to election, said that Jealous didn’t know what he was doing:

Jealous had also put out similar ads to these against Hogan, stating that Hogan’s plans would ruin the Maryland school systems. This claim seems outlandish considering that Maryland is tied for the highest projected PSAT scores in the country for 2018.  But we see this all the time in campaign ads, where people make out the opposition to be horrible and completely unfit for the job.

I think that the focus of a campaign ad should be to make that candidate’s positions clearer and more well-known. That way voters could know who they align with more, and make an educated vote for who they want in office. However, we the people have made it so that candidates don’t want to do that anymore. Instead, studies have shown that active voters respond more to a negative ad than a positive one. In fact, we pay more attention to negativity more than positivity in general, over the span of many different subjects. This is why political campaigns tend to lean more towards demeaning ads than promoting ads.

I encourage people to start looking at politics in a different way so that we can try to keep the demeaning speech to a minimum in the campaigns for the future.

I can understand why this could justify using negative language towards the opposition in your commercials, but I think that voters need to really be asking themselves why they are voting for a certain person. Am I voting for this person because I like their policy and I think they could make good change in the country, or am I voting against that candidate because the other one said he was a communist? If we really want better, more qualified people in the office, we need to start asking better questions and having a more reasonable approach when focusing on the elections. After all, their policies are what will be affecting you when they get into office, not how they felt about the other candidates.

I encourage people to start looking at politics in a different way so that we can try to keep the demeaning speech to a minimum in the campaigns for the future. Hopefully this will help to usher in a period of more self-promotion by candidates and less political slander of the opposition in our next elections.


Joey Mailloux, Sophomore

Joey Mailloux is a sophomore, and a member of the Multimedia Journalism class.