Our politics are going through a lot of changes and that’s because our populace is going through many different changes as well. Democrats are becoming more like one another — with particular tastes and preferences and desires — while Republicans are in a different camp, wanting a different lifestyle completely.
All this has raised the temperature on our politics — if one side wins, it feels like a really big loss for the other side. These sentiments get supercharged around election times and come through political advertisements.
“They don’t really do, as you note, positive advertising. They spend all of their money tearing down candidates. And, so, as these groups have become more involved in elections, they have contributed to increasing levels of negativity.” — Michael Franz, professor
Listen: Two experts discuss whether political ads have become more hostile and untruthful over the last decade.
Michael Franz is a professor of Government and Legal Studies at Bowdoin College who studies political campaign ads. He says that in a post-Citizens United world, third-party interest groups are doing a lot more and spending a lot more money to tarnish candidates.
“They don’t really do, as you note, positive advertising,” says Franz. “They spend all of their money tearing down candidates. And, so, as these groups have become more involved in elections, they have contributed to increasing levels of negativity.”
Rick Pluta is a senior state Capitol correspondent for the Michigan Public Radio Network. He says third parties and campaign teams have a lot of leeway to tarnish their opponent during an election cycle.
“Don’t forget that political speech in our jurisprudence is the most protected speech,” says Pluta. “You can’t get away with anything, but you can get away with a lot more than what you would do in any other context.”