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18.12.2008 Feature Article

POLITICAL MUDSLINGING:A CAMPAIGN TOOL OR A CALL FOR ARMS?

POLITICAL MUDSLINGING:A CAMPAIGN TOOL OR A CALL FOR ARMS?
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Webster's New World Compact School and Office Dictionary defines Politics as “Factional Scheming for Power”.

In other words, Politics is the use of strategy or intrigue in obtaining power or status. Political mudslinging is one such strategy. Voters sometimes criticize the Candidates for ignoring the issues and engaging in mudslinging instead. Mudslinging is almost universally decried, and yet it is an essential part of a competitive campaign. The truth of the matter is that voters ought to know the good points and the bad points of the Candidate who seeks their support and the logical source of information about the bad points of a Candidate is the Candidate's opponent. It is difficult to imagine how a Candidate could present a meaningful and understandable issue-based platform without contrasting the stand taken thereon with those taken by his or her opponent.

However, for political mudslinging to be of any value to the voters, it must pass 2 tests: Truth and Relevance. What you say about your opponent must be true and must also be relevant to the office being sought or it might backfire.

Webster's Dictionary says mudslinging is "the making of malicious verbal attacks, as against a political opponent." In other words mudslinging is meant to harm and eventually place your opponent's campaign machinery in disarray so that the electorate can see you as the bright star and vote you into office.

But when does mudslinging degenerate into negative campaigning with a tendency to breeding violence as occurs in many developing countries?

When what is said of your political opponent is not a validated truth and is irrelevant to the race or office being sought. Political historians in the U.S. are agreed on the fact that the only clean elections in the nation's history was the first one, in 1789, in which George Washington ran unopposed.

In the 1988 Presidential elections in the USA, George H.W. Bush's Campaign Manager Lee Atwater pursued a strategy of raising the negatives of the Democrats and their Candidate by unleashing a series of attack commercials designed to harm the Democratic Campaign. Lee Atwater used the "Get out of Jail Free Card"; "Pro-Family Letter"; "Weekend Passes"; "Revolving Door" issues to hammer the Democrats. The Democrats struggled to fight back but lacked the same fire power that Lee Atwater used.

George Herbert Walker Bush won the 1988 Presidential elections.

In 1992 George H.W. Bush proclaimed that his dog Millie knew more about foreign affairs than "those two bozos", referring to Bill Clinton and Al Gore.

Meanwhile, the Clinton-Gore "War Room" sign read, "The Economy, Stupid." The Truth and Relevance aspects of their mudslinging was at its peak. The economy was what mattered to the electorate. William Jefferson Clinton won the Presidential elections in 1992, his smoking of marijuana accusation while in College, notwithstanding.

The Campaign machinery of both the NPP and NDC in Ghana swung into full gear when the Electoral Commissioner announced the results of the elections of December 7,2008. A Run-off!

The Campaign team which will stick with political mudslinging without necessarily resorting to lies and irrelevant issues will come out on top.

Political mudslinging will be the determinant factor in the run-off elections of December 28,2008.

The truth and relevance of issues relating to the ruling NPP and its Presidential Candidate on one side, and the NDC and its Presidential Candidate on the other, will bring out one shining star.

And this shining star will be the President of the great Nation of Ghana.

May the Peace of God be upon us.
Dr. Kwadwo Adom Tufuor is an Educationist, a Theologian, a Political Practitioner, and an Author. His book, "The Politics of Campaigning and Winning Elections, The Essential Guide to Campaigns and Elections" is available online at www.adomtufuorpublishing.com .

He can also be reached at [email protected] .

Source: Adom Tufuor Publishing

Adom Tufuor Publishing
Adom Tufuor Publishing, © 2008

The author has 5 publications published on Modern Ghana.Column: AdomTufuorPublishing

Disclaimer: "The views/contents expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect those of Modern Ghana. Modern Ghana will not be responsible or liable for any inaccurate or incorrect statements contained in this article."

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