3 Do’s & 3 Don’ts for Talking About a Political Opponent

Political campaigns get heated. Harsh words get spoken.  Hard hitting advertisements are put before the voters.

This is all normal practice in the American political system and quite expected by the American people.

Thomas Jefferson and James Madison wouldn’t want it any other way.  

Heck, they encouraged and participated in such campaign tactics themselves.

But the political climate of our country is in a weird place right now, which is strange because the economy is humming along and unemployment is at a historic low.

According to a recent poll by the Pew Research Center, an enormous 85% of Americans say that political debate in the United States has become more negative — and they don’t like it.

The people have diagnosed the problem as follows:

  • 85% say political debate is less respectful
  • 76% say it is less fact-based
  •  60% say it is less focused on the issues.

Whether you blame President Trump or the Democrats controlling the House of Representatives, or some other person or entity it doesn’t matter.

What matters is that the current state of politics is not good for our country or your community.

If we’re going to change the tone and lower the temperature of our political discourse, it’s going to start with candidates like you and work its way up to bigger races.

And believe it or not, that’s what the American people want.  

It’s what your voters want.

They’re not ignoring what’s going on or even enjoying it.

The Pew poll shows that the people have very big concerns about how candidates are conducing themselves on the campaign trail.

They are also very clear on what they find acceptable and unacceptable when it comes to political debate.

  • 81% say a candidate should never deliberately mislead voters about an opponent’s record.
  • 73% say a candidate should never say something negative about an opponent’s physical appearance.
  • 62% say a candidate should never say their opponent is stupid.

I absolutely agree with that.

You should never lie about your an opponent’s record.

You should go after them for positions you disagree with or for not having a record, but don’t make things up.

You should never take a shot at your opponent for their appearance.

You need to stick to the issues. 

Leave it to the voters to subconsciously make judgements about your opponent’s appearance — and yours.

You should never say your opponent is stupid — even if you honestly think they are.

If you disagree with their positions, their record, or even their experience, then say so.

But don’t say they’re stupid, it makes you look like a jerk and jerks don’t improve the political climate in our communities.

Jerks usually don’t win elections.

Now don’t point at President Trump as an example to counter that claim.

Donald Trump received less than 50% of the total vote and didn’t win the popular vote.

He won in the Electoral College.

Had Hillary Clinton not acted like a jerk herself, calling a wide array of voters in swing states a “basket of deplorables” she might have won both the popular voted in the Electoral College.

Candidate Take Aways

Always remember these 3 Do’s and 3 Don’ts when it comes to talking about a political opponent.

Don’t lie about your opponent.  

Don’t make personal attacks.  

Don’t call your opponent stupid.

Do be respectful even if you can’t stand your opponent.

Do know the facts and stick to them. 

Do talk about the issues that matter most to the voters.