“It is wrong, quite simply, to squander a candidate’s priceless moment in history, a moment in which he or she could have brought critical issues before the citizenry, on partisan bickering.” – Congressman Mike Pence
Congressman Pence is a great role model for positive campaigning. In fact, I borrowed the name of his 1991 essay for this post. He ran an unsuccessful negative campaign in 1990 and since then swore to never do so again and he’s kept his word. He is focused on what he will do as the next governor of Indiana and his plan for our states future.
In 2010 I ran for a local political office and went negative with my campaigning. I do regret running a campaign that as a Christian I cannot be proud of and have learned the hard way that negative campaigning is simply wrong. With a few years of reflection I realize how big of a mistake I made:
- Many long hours spent developing policies to streamline and improve local government in the face of property tax caps and constricting budgets were wasted by going negative. Putting the focus on my opponents perceived negative points and not my own ideas cheated the voters out of productive and valuable exchanges.
- Going negative taints the largely positive experience of campaigning. It is a great experience to get out into your community and to meet the voters. Running a negative campaign polarizes people and diminishes your ability to be a positive impact on your community.
- Negative campaigning was disrespectful to my opponent. Anyone who runs for public office deserves to be respected. Running for office is one of the most difficult things you can do. The commitment of time and money are significant as you are put yourself on display and submit yourself to continual scrutiny.
Ultimately, negative campaigning exposed my immaturity as a candidate and a lack of confidence in my abilities. Holding public office is an honor that I hope to someday achieve. However, the next time I run for office I will focus on conducting a positive, issues-based campaign that is respectful to my opponent and of value to the citizenry.