Politicians often promise the electorate, especially at the outsets of their campaigns, not to "go negative" or take pot shots at their opponents. We hear phrases like "issues oriented," "positive campaigning," and "bridging partisan divides." And behind the scenes, no matter the rhetoric, somebody, somewhere, is digging up dirt on the other side. But why? What is the appeal and effect of negative campaigning?
Last summer, which now seems so very long ago, we looked at some people and trends in US politics and policy making who have affected our lives, some for good, but mostly not. I really enjoyed the "Where in the world is" posts in the series, even as I shuddered to write some of them. Bob Packwood's "sinewy arms" just scare me. But as we look toward this midterm election season—and perhaps with some of those personalities of yore in our collective rearview mirrors as reminders of where we should not retread—it's time to ask where the politicians of today have in mind for our future.