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Blog Struggles: Negative Campaigning Isn’t Just For Politicians

Blog Struggles badgeWith all the negative campaigning and nasty spin by the media wrapped up in election campaigns and conventions, it surprised me to find a connection between a politician commenting on negative campaigns and my continued defense of bloggers attacking other bloggers and going negative. I thought it worth talking about in my ongoing series on Blog Struggles.

I don’t know anything about Jesse White, a lawyer and state representative from Pennsylvania, except that he has a blog on called “I’m from the Government. I’m here to help.” He covers politics and issues confronting his constitutes in a very personal, up front manner that appeals to me greatly. I wish more bloggers as well as politicians followed his style.

The fact that he takes time out from his busy schedule to personally write on his blog also impresses me. In a day and age where so many politicians, stars, and celebs hire people to blog for them, or use microblogs to speed up the process, his well-thought out posts continue to make sense and speak of a fairly open and “real” person.

In A Race to the Bottom?, he brought up the issue of negative campaigning and how to respond to them. This ties in so closely with my recent posts about permitting known trolls on your blog, how to handle the unexpected reaction to your blog post, and blog bullies. He said:

Opposition research is a natural part of any political campaign, which is only compounded by people constantly giving you the “inside scoop” on an opponent. There is pressure on all sides to let people know “the truth” about the person running against you, especially if that person has gone negative against you already. Sometimes you really do have little choice but to respond in kind and attack back, just to let the other person know that you aren’t going to be anyone’s punching bag.

Personally, I prefer the somewhat less exciting but ultimately rewarding campaign style of telling the people what you plan to do and how you plan to do it. Any good candidate knows that an election is ultimately about the voters, not the people whose names happen to be on the ballot.

I am faced with that dilemma as we speak; my opponent in the November election has chosen to launch a series of attacks against me. In addition to being factually inaccurate and just plain mean-spirited, these attacks give no reason whatsoever why you should vote for him instead of me.

It’s just a shame, because for every minute a candidate spends attacking his opponent, that’s one less minute that can be spent talking about legitimate differences on policy issues that actually affect the voters. Hopefully the voters will recognize and reject the trash-talk and allow our elections to be a race to the top of the heap, not the bottom.

It is indeed a shame when so many waste our time with attacks and rants that have little to do with solutions. Jeffro on Weblog Tools Collection asked people to stop blaming the WordPress team for problems WordPress has no control over, as have I. Place blame where blame is appropriate, and rant with solutions, not just accusations.

Too many bloggers are adding to the climate problems with their hot air. They attack businesses, politics, the weather, and each other without balance or fairness. Often without justification, just a need to “let off steam” with blow hard rambling. They add nothing but their negativity to the world of online publishing.

Ranting is fine, but I want some balance. Rant all you want, but then give me suggestions on how to improve things. How to make it right. I’m always looking for bloggers with solutions, with the answers, with a positive slant on the issue to challenge my thinking instead of just whining and bitching or blaming. Aren’t you?

Stop making it personal. Attack our blogs, rant over our words, debate our opinions, blast our ideas, but don’t attack us as people. Come on, rise above this, folks.

As Jesse White said, do you recognize the difference and reject the trash talk? I’m working hard to keep my blog on top – not the top of the popularity polls but the top of the moral and valuable heap. I work hard to keep my blog relevant and of value to all who pass by. I want to offer solutions to my whines.

I’m Still Here

I suffer the attacks of others who say mean and vicious things, but unlike some bloggers, even famous bloggers, I’m still here. I’m still blogging.

To quote Stephen Sondeim’s lyrics from Follies:

I’ve gotten through, “Hey lady! Aren’t you whoozis?
Wow, what a looker you were.”
Or better yet, “Sorry, I thought you were whoozis.
Whatever happened to her?”

Good times and bum times, I’ve seen them all,
And, my dear, I’m still here.
…I’ve run the gamut, A to Z.
Three cheers and dammit, c’est la vie.
I got through all of last year, and I’m here.
Lord knows, at least I was there, and I’m here.
Look who’s here. I’m still here.

Yep, fifteen years of blogging and I’m still here – and blogging.

Having lived for five long years in the Middle East during the worst of the Intifada, losing friends in terrorist attacks, and living in the midst of the conflict, I learned a valuable lesson that keeps me going as a blogger, speaker, and through my life that I’d like to share with Jesse White and the others disheartened by those who turn their blame games and negative attacks upon them.

Marla Beth Elliott of the Righteous Mothers wrote a song about a friend of mine, Py Bateman, a pioneer, author, and teacher in self-defense and sexual assault prevention education for women. After many years of teaching karate and self-defense, Py was attacked outside her home by a man with a knife. She fought off her attacker and survived and continued to teach about the lessons learned from her own experience as well as her expertise.

In the climax of the song, “Py”, from the album “All the Rage – And None Of The Calories“, the group sang the lessons that rang in my head over the years listening to explosions in my neighborhood and watching the horror of terrorism and war on television and outside of my window:

…cuz I’ve never met her,
But she keeps me going
Through fights that I thought can’t be won.

She taught me to stay with the fight.
You cannot leave the fight.
You just keep fighting on,
You just keep fighting on,
You just keep fighting on
’til it’s done.

And if she fought back so can I.
This is the stuff that legends are made of.
Roll over, Beowulf, make room for Py.

Notice that the song says “keep keeping on ’til it’s done” not won. It isn’t about winning. It’s about staying in the fight. It is about being stronger over the long term, no matter the outcome. The strong will survive but not always through brute force. It’s the inner strength that keeps us fighting on.

When things would get tough and we felt that we just couldn’t endure another nightmare attack, threat, or dark moment, I’d hear those words in my head and find myself singing that song.

When the next blog attack or nasty comment pops in unexpected into your bloggy life, hang in there and tell yourself:

Never give up or give in. Don’t let them win. Keep fighting on ’til it is done.

Blog Struggles Article Series

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Copyright Lorelle VanFossen, the author of Blogging Tips, What Bloggers Won't Tell You About Blogging.


  1. Posted September 4, 2008 at 5:43 am | Permalink

    Good stuff as always. Thanks for the positive reinforcement! 🙂

  2. Posted September 4, 2008 at 8:28 am | Permalink

    @ Jesse White:

    And thank you for continuing to be a source of blog inspiration. 😀 Keep setting the bar higher for all of us.

  3. Posted September 6, 2008 at 5:01 am | Permalink

    Wow! Lorelle this is amazing. I didn’t realise you were living in the Middle East during the uprising.

    This is an interesting, positive and inspiring post which is (as usual) filled with good advice.

    Also grateful to you for pointing me in the direction of Jesse White’s excellent site.

  4. Posted September 22, 2008 at 2:26 pm | Permalink

    I’m willing to argue that it’s okay for bloggers to rant about how they don’t like this, that and the other. After all, it’s their blog! People love to hear negativity. Besides, if they were try try to come up with some sort of solution, it wouldn’t matter anyway when it comes to political matters. Why not rant your negative thoughts? 🙂

3 Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. […] Blog Struggles: Negative Campaigning Isn’t Just For Politicians […]

  2. […] Blog Struggles: Negative Campaigning Isn’t Just For Politicians looks at the power of the negative and how it holds the attention of so many in the world, not just in the blogosphere. Is it really necessary? Can we blog with positive optimism again soon? […]

  3. […] Blog Struggles: Negative Campaigning Isn’t Just For Politicians looks at the power of the negative and how it holds the attention of so many in the world, not just in the blogosphere. Is it really necessary? Can we blog with positive optimism again soon? […]

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