The way that Congressman Michael Capuano has entered the Massachusetts senate race for Edward Kennedy’s seat is disconcerting. Attacking his opponent, Attorney General Martha Coakley, for being “timid” when she was the first person to enter the Senate race – really? He waited until Joe Kennedy declined before entering the race, as many other people were also deciding whether they would run if he didn’t. Attorney General Coakley is a lawyer and a professional, and I hardly think that she would have gotten as far as she has if she were timid.
Although negative campaigning is nothing new, politicians who think that is the route toward victory are in for a wake-up call. In attempting to win this campaign by attacking someone’s character rather than emphasizing their reason for running, their goals as US Senator and policy ideas will garner no support or may push more people toward the other opponent. If the negative campaigner does indeed win, they face the trouble of entering the office with an embarrassing start on the first day on the job, and this is only if Capuano chooses to continue down this route.
In the 2008 presidential race, people rejected that behavior, and I think that it’s time we move past it. Most voters are turned off by attack ads, vague platform ideas, and indecisiveness. In addition, what was obvious during the 2008 campaign was that negative campaigning led to candidates losing their current supporters, especially if they already held elected office. Most voters are hungry to learn about the ideas and why the candidate believes he/she is best fit for the job over the other candidates running, and if it becomes polarizing between two candidates from the same party, some voters will be turned off, and may not show up to the polls, or vote for someone else.
Choosing our legislators is the most frequent activity that the ordinary citizen will participate in. But as noted in the YouTube video entitled “Coakley video 1 edited down,” which was compiled by Coakley’s campaign from local news sources, we want someone who is going to represent us for the key issues, and not because “they have nothing else to lose.” Regardless of who wins, the next Senator of Massachusetts will also be a colleague that will have to be able to bring people together positively. If a campaign starts off negatively, how are voters supposed to feel positively about the candidate?
In short, various issues regarding the state of Massachusetts are at stake, from healthcare reform, budget cuts, and fee hikes to job creation. Congressman Capuano should be advised, too, that by running a dirty campaign, in the event he loses this seat, he may also lose his earlier supporters as a Congressman if he chooses to run for reelection as Congressman in November 2010. This is shaping up to be an interesting campaign since the person elected will fill the seat of Senator Edward Kennedy.