Running a civil campaign

If you’ve every wondered what it looks like when two grown-ups  run for office, take a look at this year’s race for Texas Land Commissioner. The Dallas Morning New has a short article looking at how incumbent Jerry Patterson and challenger Hector Uribe are waging a positive campaign and remaining friends.

The campaign reflects the competition between two secure adults (as Patterson says: “You reach a point in your life when you’ve got nothing to prove by denigrating somebody else.”) engaged in a competition that actually benefits voters (Uribe notes that voters benefit from a “civil discourse.”). Imagine two candidates putting their humanity and the public interest ahead of their personal ambition.

It’s no surprise that if we competing teams of advertising consultants millions of dollars they can tear down  the candidates on both sides. All we’ve succeeded in doing by the end of the campaign is making sure that we have the lowest possible opinion of the people who will serve in public office.

We can’t simply blame the consultants for this. Citizens reward campaigns whenever we respond to these attacks. Maybe that’s what people want. Americans love to judge others and complain. Negative campaigns allow us to carry all the worst elements of “reality” television into governing. The difference is that we don’t rely on the “real housewives” or the cast of Jersey Shore to do accomplish anything. However, we need our elected officials to have some ability to communicate with us and lead the state.

Why do we work so hard to prevent that?

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