Negative politics exist because they work … perhaps better than ever

Saskatchewan Party Leader Scott Moe and NDP Leader Ryan Meili.

The saddest thing about the Saskatchewan Party’s recent negative political advertising isn’t that it’s a reflection of today’s social-media-driven political debate (although today’s social media surely isn’t helping this age-old problem).

The saddest thing is that it still works.

If one is ever inclined to see what it’s like living with a partisan mindset, follow a few old political warhorses on Twitter … or perhaps even a few current politicians emboldened by the notion that decency and good grace are no longer qualities voters want.

Conservative, Liberal, NDP … it really doesn’t matter the party. What they’ve always shared is a core belief that enraging, engaging and mobilizing a support base is more critical than some “subjective” view of what’s true.

Social media is often selling angry, half-truths in a dark, petty way, but this is what negative political advertising has always been.

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It’s also not fair for NDP Opposition Leader Ryan Meili to categorize this as “American-style” when all parties in the Great White North have engaged in such practices for decades. In 2007, it was the NDP’s TV ads portraying Brad Wall as a wolf in sheep’s clothing, which seems rather negative. In 1967, it was tying empty whiskey bottles to election posters of Liberal Premier Ross Thatcher to imply he had a drinking problem. Yep. It’s been happening here for awhile.

As a willing participant in all this, Meili’s repeated complaints about the Saskatchewan Party’s ads aimed at him do come across as a bit whiny.

After all, Meili did say Saskatchewan should “consider a modest carbon tax” made in Saskatchewan, which would still…

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