October 11, 1996 in City

Dole Should Stay On The High Road Keep It Clean Voters Would Rather Hear Talk About The Issues.

By The Spokesman-Review
 

Oh no, we thought. Here it comes. The mudslinging, the snideness, the ugliness. It was Sunday night and presidential debate moderator Jim Lehrer had just asked Bob Dole to discuss “significant differences in the more personal area that are relevant to this campaign.”

Dole declined the offer to get personal and resumed talking about the issues. The two candidates spent the 90-minute debate being respectful and, well, presidential. They both said they respected each other. At the end, the men shook hands, greeted one another’s families and for a moment it looked as if they might engage in a group hug!

Civility seems to be bowing back into the political process. Not just at the presidential level, either. It’s a welcome change. And this civility might just help people be less cynical about the election process and those who run for office.

Dole recently implied he might be going negative. Please, Mr. Dole, do not! Remember 1994. Campaigns at the federal, state and local level were filled with mud. There was free-floating rage everywhere. Here at the newspaper, we received some of the angriest and most mean-spirited letters ever. Candidates, and voters, were cranky and edgy.

In the past year, we’ve felt some mellowing. Even callers to talk radio shows seem more upbeat. Here on the editorial board, we are in the middle of election endorsement interviews. By Nov. 5, we will have talked with almost a hundred candidates. So far, the majority of candidates have stuck to the issues and not gone on the attack. When they do bring up a criticism of an opponent, they do so in an almost apologetic way. And many praise their competition.

So what’s going on? Why all this civility? A couple of theories. The anger simply burned itself out. It was so intense in 1994 that people grew tired of venting and felt like listening and learning instead.

Another theory: Candidates finally believe that voters want to talk about issues. Dole and Clinton had plenty of time to tell the American people their views on the economy, on defense and on the future of our country because they didn’t waste time tearing one another apart.

What great role-modeling. We hope Dole - and all candidates for office - maintain civility these final weeks. If they do, we’ll be glad to send thank-you notes.

, DataTimes MEMO: See opposing view under the headline: Nothing wrong with frank talk

The following fields overflowed: SUPCAT = EDITORIAL, COLUMN - From both sides CREDIT = Rebecca Nappi/For the editorial board

See opposing view under the headline: Nothing wrong with frank talk

The following fields overflowed: SUPCAT = EDITORIAL, COLUMN - From both sides CREDIT = Rebecca Nappi/For the editorial board

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