Countering negativity and falsehoods in political campaigns

Electing a president  and Congress is perhaps the most consequential political step Americans take. A campaign should help voters to make genuinely informed choices. Yet, 50 percent of Americans already say the campaign has been too negative. Ad trackers confirm that perception, finding that 72 percent of political ads thus far have been negative—and nastier than in the past. In addition, falsehoods about candidates’ pasts and policies circulate widely online and in e-mails, misleading those who take them in.

Nothing should prevent candidates from making the best case for themselves, presenting their experience and positions and pointing out distinctions between themselves and other candidates. But deliberate misrepresentation and the use of inflammatory language run contrary to basic moral principles: Do not bear false witness; do not steal; do unto others as you would have them do unto you. 

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