EDITORIAL: Stop slinging mud, make candidates shine

2012-05-09T00:00:00Z EDITORIAL: Stop slinging mud, make candidates shine nwitimes.com
May 09, 2012 12:00 am

Now that the primary election is over, it's time to reflect on some of the lessons to be learned about the campaign. Chief among them should be to address the tone of the campaigns.

Especially in the U.S. Senate race, we saw a disturbing amount of negative campaigning, a remarkable feat considering both Republican candidates virtually ignored Northwest Indiana compared to the number of campaign ads downstate.

We don't need no double negatives — see how ridiculous it sounds? Yet the negative campaigning began early and never abated.

In the U.S. Senate race, Richard Mourdock and Dick Lugar were throwing brickbat after brickbat at each other. Democrat Joe Donnelly joined in the fray, helping Mourdock take down the longtime incumbent.

Lugar fought back, even referring to his opponent in the final days of the campaign as "unqualified" to serve in the Senate.

Mourdock won the primary, but at what cost? The scorched-earth campaigning on each side has left wounds too deep to heal quickly. The Republican Party remains fractionalized, and the factions will remain wary of each other. If they come together in the fall behind a single candidate, it will be an uneasy truce.

Remember that. Political campaigns shouldn't be about winning at all costs. It should be about selecting the best candidate, not about vociferously attacking opponents.

The tone of campaigns, especially at the national level, has become increasingly bitter. That is unfortunate for the ability of the federal government to reach the compromises necessary to function properly. It also weakens the fabric of society when so many Americans are bitterly arguing with relatives and neighbors.

We're talking about public policy options, not the end of life as we know it. Tone down the debate. Sell your candidate instead of attacking your opponent.

With the primary in the rearview mirror, it's on to the general election, to Republicans vs. Democrats. Behave out there.

Americans need a break from this mudslinging.

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