The lost art of positive speech
October 18 2002 by Tony W. Cartledge , BR Editor

The lost art of positive speech | Friday, Oct. 18, 2002

Friday, Oct. 18, 2002

The lost art of positive speech

By Tony W. Cartledge BR Editor

I suspect I am not alone in my aversion to negative political campaigning, especially through the various advertising media.

This year's U.S. Senate race, like other contests in recent years, is not about presenting oneself in a positive light, but all about portraying the opponent in the most negative way possible. The political handlers responsible for this persistent abuse of the public airways seem to care little for the straight truth, choosing instead to twist or exaggerate their opponent's political record, financial dealings and family affairs.

The tactic is not limited to the current senate campaign, but is a common feature across the election spectrum.

I've heard so many put downs and run downs that I've developed an outright allergy to negative campaigning. I gag at the first hint of a political slur-fest and frequently change the channel, only to hear the same ad or the opponent's comeback on the new station.

I shudder to think of the millions of dollars being spent this year - and it is mucho millions - for no purpose other than to make the opposing candidate look less appealing by throwing mud (or worse) in his or her face.

It's enough to make anyone heave.

Imagine the number of prescriptions that could be filled with the mega-dollars candidates are spending to criticize their opponents' views on prescription drug assistance for the poor and elderly.

Calculate how many people could be paid a decent salary for a year with the cartons of cash that candidates are spending to tear down their opponents' purported views on the minimum wage, tax relief or free trade.

When candidates consistently stoop to negative campaigning, I break out in a rash of disgust and don't want to vote for any of them.

I'm confident that most of the people who run for office are basically good citizens who really do want to do good things for the residents of their district or state. Their campaign language, however, is more typical of the trash talk preceding a World Wrestling Federation smackdown, only with less integrity. "Rasslin" hardly even pretends to be authentic.

I want to vote for a candidate who will stand up and tell me what he or she is for, not what they're against.

I want to vote for a candidate who will tell me why I should support him or her, not why I should shun their opponent.

I want candidates to acknowledge that it's okay to have differing visions of what is best for the public, and encourage voters to choose on the basis of political vision rather than campaign distortion.

Sadly, I first developed this allergy to negative campaigning from over-exposure to the denominational politicking that has ravaged Baptists for the last quarter of a century.

If the Southern Baptist Convention or the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship wants my allegiance, if Mainstream Baptists or Conservative Carolina Baptists are seeking my sympathies. I want to hear what's good about us, not what's bad about them.

I want to hear an acknowledgement that good people can have differing visions of what it means to serve God faithfully, and to sense a spirit of trust that allows people to follow the vision that resonates for them without questioning their character or commitment.

Likewise, if a Christian preacher believes that Christ is the only way to salvation and that Christianity is preferable to all other faiths, I want to hear him or her tell me what is so good about Jesus - not what is so bad about Muhammad or Buddha or Krishna.

The biblical word we translate as "gospel" literally means "good news." Believers are not called to insult those without Christ, but to proclaim the good news about Christ.

Some folks seem to thrive on a diet of disputes, but most people really don't want another argument.

Those who promote political candidates as well as those who promote the gospel would do well to learn the power of a positive message.

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10/18/2002 12:00:00 AM by Tony W. Cartledge , BR Editor | with 0 comments
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