Letter to the Editor
As we enter the midterm election cycle, we can expect a barrage of messages which may make our voting decisions more difficult. Some messages will deliberately distort the truth, or even outright lie. It may be difficult to sort facts from misinformation, but one helpful strategy is to be suspicious of attack ads. Ads that try to roil our emotions, creating fear or anxiety, are meant to bypass our powers of reasoning. Attempts to paint candidates as evil or label them as something negative (communists, pedophiles, traitors, racists, extremists, bigots, groomers, etc.) are red flags. These attack ads can come from all sides of the political spectrum.
Ads use the same powerful, well-tested psychological strategies employed to sell products, including ones that may be harmful to us. Their goal is not information, but manipulation. Let’s look for specific policies or positions, not name-calling and labeling. We can evaluate a person’s values and actions without resorting to character assassination.
We need to be savvy voters who find out what candidates stand for. The best sources for this are their own stated positions and the record of how they have voted. Closer to election day, you can find factual information on candidates on the non-partisan website www.vote411.org.
We may have different values and different reasons for our voting decisions, but we can all try to avoid the manipulation of attack ads and strive to evaluate candidates fairly.