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Next election, let’s do without negative campaigning

A Biden supporter listens as a Trump supporter yells at her prior to the vice presidential debate between Vice President Mike Pence and his Democratic rival, California Sen. Kamala Harris, at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City on Wednesday, Oct. 7, 2020.
Laura Seitz, Deseret News

I am exhausted by negative campaigns. And no political party is without guilt.

I am a member of the Republican Party. Contrary to what some say, there are Republicans and Democrats who want to work across the aisle to get things done. Over the last several years, I have worked together on a number of bills with my Democratic colleagues: to eliminate the straight party voting option on the ballot, to enhance opportunities for female candidates, and a historic bill that ended the practice of conversion therapy.

Even though Republicans hold a majority in the Legislature, bipartisan support at critical junctures in committee hearings or during floor debates, was crucial to passing these important bills.

But as I campaign again for the Legislature, one would think that partisanship is the most important value to some. At every level of government, this year appears to be the worst, most negative campaign season of my lifetime. And I can’t find many who disagree. Voters are receiving the message that if a candidate does not think just like you, and does not agree with your party, all of the time, they must be a horrible person.

Negative campaign commercials, misleading mailers and degrading comments are becoming overwhelming, and sadly, the norm. The attack ads for Utah’s 4th Congressional District are over-the-top and exhausting. I just want to get all these federal and state candidates together and make them say one nice thing about each other.

Unfortunately, hypernegativity at the national and congressional level has seeped into our local elections. One thing I’ve been proud of is how state and local campaigns have typically focused on the issues and not on tearing down other candidates.

Utah voters have traditionally rejected negative campaigns and supported candidates they believe best reflect their values and priorities. However, this year the attitude of “the ends justify the means” has seeped into many Utah campaigns. And again, no political party is without guilt.

Let’s just all stop this.

Let’s not be persuaded by negativity. If you see something out of line, say something. Certainly, don’t spread the negativity on social media. Let us all be part of the solution. Look, I get it. As a candidate you have to distinguish yourself from your opponent. But discuss ideas and policies, not personalities and parties. The truth is, most candidates are good people who are sincere in their desire to serve their community and improve things in a way they think is best.

I applaud and endorse the message shared recently by the Republican and Democratic gubernatorial candidates Spencer Cox and Chris Peterson that, “We can debate issues without degrading each other’s character” and “We can disagree without hating each other.”

This election will soon be over. But make no mistake — 2022 campaigning will begin on Wednesday, Nov. 4, 2020. Next time around, let’s show the country there’s a better way.

Rep. Craig Hall represents part of West Valley City in the Utah Legislature.