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Sadly, negative campaigns work

Voters have the power to stop the tactics &

8212; with their ballots

The Salem Statesman Journal

If you like negative campaigning, you must be an election consultant. Or have a warped sense of decency. Or be a desperate candidate. But the reason that politicians resort to negative tactics is simple: They work.

It's your fault. And ours. As long as voters let smear campaigns sway them, candidates and interest groups will employ such strategies and consultants will make a bundle of money in the process.

Their commercials and fliers will imply that Candidate A wants a sales tax the kiss of political death in Oregon. Or a local income tax.

Or wants to destroy the environment. Or the economy.

Or is funded by radical left-wing interests. Or radical right-wing groups. Or isn't a true Oregonian. — Or is soft on immigration. Or crime. Or whatever the hot-button issue of the day is.

Or all of the above.

If you dislike the misleading fliers, the scurrilous commercials or the nasty ads, then ... don't fall for them. Vote against candidates whose backers employ such tactics. Eventually, politicians will get the message.

But unless you and your fellow voters insist that candidates take the high road, many of them will willingly wallow through the gutter alongside the low road.

Most won't admit they've embraced negative campaigning. They'll say they're presenting "comparison pieces" &

8212; which usually show that Candidate X is the wisest, most compassionate, most effective person in modern times but Candidate B is the scourge of the earth.

They'll quote their opponents' comments and records out of context but footnote their sources &

8212; as if that makes it OK to have only a tangential relationship to the truth.

If necessary, they'll blame their opponents for making them jump into the slime: "He or she started it. I didn't want to go negative but at this point it was the only way to salvage the election."

These are the people who believe the old saying, "Winning isn't everything; it's the only thing." But what good is the outcome &

8212; in an election, a job, a relationship &

8212; if you sell your soul along the way?