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Casting votes with thought and foresight

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Joe Webb

Negative campaigning is one of the more unfortunate facts of politics.  If you say that is true because negative campaigning is effective, then you’re engaging in shallow thinking.  
The real questions, in my mind, about negative campaigns are what gives rise to them, why they matter in the election of a public official and what their consequences are.  
None of us in this world is perfect. We all have a past with mistakes — even serious mistakes. We do expect our public officials to be mature and responsible, and individuals who exercise good judgment because they are charged with the administration of our laws and the crafting of laws through legislation.  
In short, many of us want to respect them. Bringing up a candidate’s past through negative campaigning is like saying, “Do you really want that sort of person to be your (insert public office here)?
The ramifications for exposure of personal skeletons can reach beyond the political sphere and affect your personal life and the lives of others.  Anyone who runs for public office is — like it or not — part of a team.
The discussion of real or imagined scandals will impact other candidates who are part of the same party. How many Republicans were defeated in their re-election bids because of Watergate? How many Democrats lost because of Hillary Clinton’s emailgate?
Voters are not mocked and, more importantly, voters are not fooled by skeletons. They know the difference between a worthy candidate and one who is not.
Recently, an independent congressional candidate in Virginia received national exposure because he is a self-admitted pedophile. His exposure came because the media stepped up to the plate and did their job.
Political opponents are not the only ones who will rattle someone with skeletons in their past or present. Political contests are called campaigns for a reason. They are brutal serious endeavors in which anything nowadays seems to be permissible. To run for office without thinking about this is extremely reckless and irresponsible.
Negative campaigning will never disappear. But what can happen is voters ultimately become more intelligent and discerning so they can short-circuit the con artists and hucksters who would engage in such a low form of politics.  
They will simultaneously be able to decide when someone’s skeletons are an impediment to effective public service. What I have attempted to do is share a few thoughts to help you, as an informed citizen, figure out an appropriate reaction.  
Your vote counts in November, but remember to cast it with some thought and foresight as to which arguments against a candidate are valid and which are bogus.