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The Politics of Mud-Slinging

From Carson to Clinton and Bush to Sanders, the presidential candidacy field is getting crowded, signaling the real start to election season—and dirty laundry season. Political fireworks and carefully timed bombshells are as much a part of the election cycle as stump speeches and debates, and cause an instantaneous campaign implosion. Some of the most viable candidates have watched their political ambitions evaporate in the blink of an eye. When the mud begins to fly, the best offense is often the best defense.

The majority of the population would say they would appreciate cleanly fought political campaigns, but the reality is that the majority of the hits that stick are the ones below the belt. The politically savvy may immediately cite an exchange over the economy in a debate as the turning point when it came to who received their vote, but most will recall a major gaffe or negative news story.

The result: a windfall of negativity. Ads that highlight an opponents’ negatives as opposed to the candidates’ own positives. Harmful news stories. Political operators staked with the task of digging up dirt (okay, perhaps I’ve seen too many episodes of House of Cards—but probably not.)

This trend speaks to the cynicism of the American political climate. Citizens respond with more enthusiasm when presented with a portrait of the decline of our nation should they vote for “the other candidate.” One’s own accomplishments and platform begin to play second fiddle to the venomous attacks spewed at the opposition. It makes for entertaining debates, but an inaccurate measuring stick of candidate viability.

Mike Huckabee is expected to announce his candidacy this morning, throwing his hat into the presidential fray. We’re a year-and-a-half out from the election, but the action is already in full-swing. Here’s hoping for campaigns that stick to the issues, but in a political landscape comprised primarily of mud, we better prepare for things to get dirty.

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