This week, The Allstate Foundation partnered with Junior Achievement to bring curriculum about economics, business and entrepreneurship to school districts in need. As part of the partnership, I taught a 5th grade class for the entire school day on Monday. The experience was truly rewarding and eye-opening, but also assured me that teaching is not my missed calling. I was so exhausted and out of patience by the end of the day!
When we got to the lesson on advertising (which was my favorite of course!), I asked them about the presidential election. These 10-year-olds impressed me with their knowledge of the candidates, including Bob Barr and Ralph Nader. When we got to political ads, several students said they thought the commercials on TV were mean. They noticed that instead of saying “you should vote for me,” they often say “don’t vote for him.” Even 10-year-olds can tell the campaigns are nasty!
I’ve read many things that say this election contains more negative advertising and campaign tactics than any previous presidential election. A recent article on foxnews.comtalks about both campaign’s negative approaches, especially the McCain/Palin effort to connect Obama to William Ayers.
As I thought this over, I wondered if the accessibility of social media has contributed to the rise in negative campaigns. Anyone can say anything about any presidential candidate without authority or ability to back this up. If enough people read it, this can spur controversy and create a large controversy. How can this be regulated? What’s McCain to do if one of this supporters inaccurately smears Obama online?
This obviously isn’t the only source of negativity with regard to the campaigns, because both candidates have said damaging things about the other from their own mouths and in approved advertisements. But I do wonder if it’s harder to keep a clean and positive campaign with all the shenanigans online.