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Defining the issues of 2014 through positive campaigning

The 2014 campaign season is open, but what the issues are is up in the air.
The 2014 campaign season is open, but what the issues are is up in the air.
Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images

The 2014 Midterm Election season is well underway. While the American People will soon notice an ever-increasing number of political ads popping up all over the place, their busy lives and the real world impact of the issues our candidates will be discussing offer a great deal of competition for the political theater we are sure to see in the coming months. Although most Americans have traditionally been disengaged from their democratic government on a daily basis, the negativity and thorough dysfunction of our political system in recent years truly fosters political apathy on the behalf of all voters.

If the goal of our elected officials is to saturate the airwaves with so much confusion, distrust, and anger that it drives voters away from the polls, so they can win solely with the support of their core base of supporters, they are doing a pretty job. If the goal is to govern and represent the interests of all Americans, they are failing. Civil disengagement ultimately leads to a government that does not adequately represent the interests of the American People, in which case government becomes the intrusive problem that prevents our country from thriving.

Fortunately, campaigns are starting to experiment with positive ads. Unfortunately, the issues of the 2014 Mid-Term Elections have yet to be defined. Certainly, there are a great number of economic, foreign policy, and national security issues that the American People are concerned about, but there are few believable solutions on the table. The American People already know what is not working, or has not worked in the past, and we know when elected officials are not performing, yet we do not see solutions to these problems.

No one can easily predict which issues will go viral in an election cycle; however, candidates, who both recognize when they need to find better solutions and when they can offer well-considered, balanced solutions that can actually be effective for the American People, will be able to define themselves as the best option for voters. Positive ads will fail if a candidate has nothing new to offer the American People. At best, negative campaigning helps persuade voters that the other guy is the greater of two evils. On the other hand, positive campaigning can be successful if a candidate can offer a credible vision built on viable solutions and honest, responsive constituent input. This will eventually help candidates define the issues of the 2014 Mid-Term Elections for each race at the local level.