So the 2018 election campaign is officially over (or as a cynical friend of mine put it, the 2020 election campaign has officially begun). Every election I think we’ve hit a new low with regard to decency and civil discourse. It’s probably just my imagination, of course; the things John Adams and Thomas Jefferson said about one another were every bit as bad as the negative ads you see today. Still, I appreciate the temporary reduction in airborne mud that I hope to experience in coming weeks. It’s practically the holiday season, after all.
Everyone hates it when “the other guy” goes negative. And most of us regret it when “our guy” feels compelled to go negative himself. And still, the mud continues to fly. The reason, of course, is that negative ads work. It’s a quick way to shift the narrative, put your opponent on the defensive, and present your candidate as a better alternative by necessary inference.
Personally (and I have no data to back myself up here), I suspect negative ads do better at firing up the base than converting the undecided. Most of the folks in the middle seem more likely to declare, “A pox on both your houses!” and spend Election Day binge-watching Netflix. Most people, I believe, want to hear a positive message.
That’s one reason I preach Jesus mostly from a perspective of what He offers, rather than how He condemns what you already have. Jesus has plenty of negativity to offer, mind you; read Matthew 23 sometime.