Since 2009 I’ve been on a tangent about how candidates campaign or how the grassroots promotes opponents. While I was not a fan of John McCain for President I did vote for him and campaign for him, but his problem was the same as Mitt Romney, Bob Dole, and even John Kerry. They were all run as the “not” candidate. John McCain and Mitt Romney were “not” Barack Obama. Bob Dole was “not” Bill Clinton. John Kerry was “not” George W. Bush. By being the “not” candidate it meant that the vast majority of information presented is negative towards their opponent instead of positive toward them.
My main argument has been that this simply leads to people staying home on election day rather than bringing out supporter. Of course there is plenty of room for negative campaigning, but it has to be in a certain way and it can’t take over the campaign.
Recently though I think I expanded my thoughts on the “not” candidate because of the recent Speakers races. In both the US House and the Texas House the majority of the conversation has been on the negatives of the current Speakers. As they are the ones in power of course their negatives shine through, but if we really want our elected officials to support another candidate then we need to focus on the positives of that candidate.
Whether in the US House or Texas House an argument will be used that the opposing candidate doesn’t have leadership skills or hasn’t done enough to deserve the position of Speaker. Unfortunately, instead of combating that many often go back on the attack of how bad the current leadership is and how they need to be removed. Thus, never really answering the charge of the representative.
For example, while I support removing Joe Straus as Speaker I couldn’t give you a long list of reasons why Scott Turner, the only announced opponent, is the best person in the House to lead. I can give a few reasons why I think he is better than Straus for the job, but not why he is the best (besides him being the only one to step up). That is because so much of the campaign by the grassroots has been focused on Straus’ negatives. Some people have even turned the majority of the conversation on ousting some representatives with very conservative records out because they said they were supporting Straus. This conversation does nothing to tell why Turner is a qualified candidate.
There are still a few days left to change this and make the conversation about why Turner is the better choice for Speaker, but as long as he remains the “not” Straus candidate it is certain to fail.