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Negative Political Campaigns Equal Bad Dog Training

Misleading, political attacks make me mad. And, I finally know why. Smearing an opponent with lies and misinformation is the equivalent of punishment-based dog training. Except in this case, the American public fills the role of abused dog.

Overly negative candidates who use personal attacks get their power from intimidation and fear — instead of teamwork. This Alpha-roll, pin-them-down attitude keeps voters worried and pliant, which is a perfect state if all you care about is the status quo or getting what you want … no matter what.

Like an electric shock to a dog’s neck or an unexpected jerk of the collar delivered at a handler’s misguided whim, negative campaigns subject voters to wrath completely disconnected from reality, action, or truth.

It’s as if it comes from another space and time.

And, frankly, it’s a crappy thing to do.

The problem is this: Sometimes it works. Such efforts either cow us into submission or make us more aggressive, more fearful.

There has been a lot of talk about pitbulls in this presidential election, which frankly is unfair to all the bully breeds (many of whom I know and love).

But, allow me this visual —

Next time you see a grumbling, fearful campaign crowd picture instead fighting dogs baited into a frenzy. Next time you feel sick in your stomach after seeing a negative ad, imagine the candidate who “approved this message” is hanging you and other voters on the end of a choke chain to show you who’s boss.

Me? I’d rather have clicks and treats … and the hope and teamwork that comes with them.

Roxanne Hawn

Trained as a traditional journalist and based in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado, USA, I'm a full-time freelance writer for magazines, websites, and private clients. My areas of specialty include everything in the lifestyles arena, including health and home, personal finance and other consumer interests, relationships and trends, people and business profiles ... and, of course, all things pet related. I don't just love dogs. I need them in my life. Seriously.

Dave Pearson - October 16, 2008

Having done both canine training and political consulting, I can only suggest that you read Animals in Translation and comment that one man’s “negative” is another’s “positive.”

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