Ignore the hate

Published 10:35 am Friday, February 3, 2012

An unsurprising result of the Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United decision has been a veritable unleashing of major donors who are now free to contribute to political action committees in a way that they could not directly support candidates. And those committees, generally called “superPACs” in turn appear to be using their riches to generate attack ads. It is one or the uglier uses of free speech.

Anyone who lives in or visited Florida in the week leading up to Tuesday’s primary election there was barraged with ads, mostly on television, designed to tear down front-runners Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney. While neither candidate was technically responsible for ads attacking the other, neither did either of them do very much to stop the negativity. Minnesota’s precinct caucuses, far less influential than Florida’s primary, are not likely to draw the same kind of ugly ad barrage. But because it will again be a so-called “battleground state,” Minnesotans will see plenty of nasty campaign ads later this year.

We hope that every voter, whether Democrat or Republican, will keep in mind that there is nothing easier than to attack a candidate — and nothing harder than to make one’s own case. And it’s well worth wondering why a particular candidate favors mud-slinging over building up his or her own position. Early indications are that the 2012 presidential election is going to be ugly indeed. We suggest ignoring all attack ads to the extent possible.

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