'A bunch of self-serving exaggeration' - Macleans.ca

‘A bunch of self-serving exaggeration’

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Canwest is presently running a five-part—only five?—series on the decline of our politics. The first part was entitled, “How the public lost faith in politics” and you’ll never guess who turns out to be the most cynical cynic quoted…

Ladies and gentlemen, Tom Flanagan.

Tom Flanagan, the University of Calgary academic who has managed and advised several Conservative election campaigns, considers negative ads “part of the weaponry of politics.” He says if parties only promoted their own candidates, “voters would be confronted with a bunch of self-serving exaggeration.” In contrast, negative tactics and attack ads keep people honest.

“In a democracy, it’s a healthy thing for people to have a degree of skepticism about political leaders,” he says. “It’s a good thing that people don’t really trust politicians, and don’t expect too much from government. Negative campaigning is all part of cutting politicians down to size.”

Fair enough, one supposes. If only because Prof. Flanagan’s last public showing inspired negative campaigning such as this.

Part Two of the Canwest series is here.