The Instigator
Pro (for)
0 Points
The Contender
Con (against)
11 Points

Should negative political ads be banned

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 3 votes the winner is...
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 6/19/2012 Category: Politics
Updated: 5 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 3,815 times Debate No: 24349
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (2)
Votes (3)




Round 1= acceptance
Round 2= contentions
Round 3= refutations
Round 4= conclusion

hope we have a good debate


I accept the debate.
Debate Round No. 1


Hello Honorable Judges, My name is X and I am on the affirmative side of today's debate "Should negative campaigning be banned"

I will start with a proper framework for today's debate.
Standard: The standard or the weighing mechanism for today's debate should be the benefits of the society.

Now I will start with my arguments

Contention 1: Negative campaigning creates voter apathy and prevents accurate reporting of candidates' policies and ideologies. The contemporary political environment throughout much of the democratic world- and especially the USA- is mired in negative and aggressive campaigning. Tactics of this type breed apathy and anomie among groups within society who have previously been politically engaged. Politicians are increasingly portrayed as uniformly corrupt, incompetent or both. Research published by Stamford University in the late nineties has linked an overall decline in voter turnout (approximately 10% between 1960 and 1992) and a further decline in voter roll-off (the likelihood that an individual will vote for a high office, but neglect to vote for state or federal legislative positions) to increased reliance on attack ads and negative campaigning among American politicians. The authors of the Stamford report identify several causative factors underlying this connection. Banning overtly negative campaigning will remove the perverse incentives that distort press coverage of the meaningful, practical details of election campaigns. Consequently, voters will be able to draw on a wider range of information when making their choice at the ballot box. A ban will prevent politicians from engaging in attrition based campaigns designed purely to breed apathy among their opponent's supporters. Participants in the political process should be encouraged to test and investigate each other's policies, premises and ideals. The evolutionary, dialectical pressures that debate of this type exerts will ultimately lead to more refined policy making. In attempting to do more and offer more to voters, politicians will be forced to survey and interact with a wider range of potential supporters than they normally would.

Contention 2: Existing methods of disciplining and controlling candidates are ineffective. Many political parties- even those in operating in the US- claim that regulation of the content of political campaigns is unnecessary. Parties assert that they supervise and monitor the content of their candidates' statements. Self-regulation is claimed to be in parties' own interests. However, ensuring that individual candidates maintain good standards of conduct and are disciplined for infractions goes only half way to ensuring that campaigning remains honest and equitable. Articles written and speeches made by candidates can easily be monitored for misleading or litigious content. However, the most intractable forms of negative campaigning often occur indirectly, without being explicitly associated with a particular political figure. Due to the frequency with which candidates' activists and survey staff make contact with voters, there is the danger that they could be used to propagate negative messages via word of mouth campaigns. Tactics of this type were successfully employed by the radical socialist George Galloway to oust a Labour incumbent in the UK constituency of Bethnal Green and Bough. Allegations later emerged that Galloway's door-step campaigners had made ad hominem and racist comments against his opponent. It is unacceptable that a candidate should be able to maintain a "clean" image by using his electoral staff to make negative attacks by proxy. Finally, limiting negative campaigning in the press will address the incentives on politicians to pursue campaign strategies oriented solely around garnering publicity. One of the first examples of negative campaigning, a 1964 television advert produced by Harry Truman, which implied that presidential candidate Barry Goldwater would initiate a nuclear war, proved so controversial that it was replayed in news broadcasts, effectively granting additional, free campaign coverage. The press is already confronted with too many engineered leaks and scandals. As noted above, these obscure more cogent analysis by neutral experts and commentators.

Contention 3: Negative campaigning leads to negative governance. Information on demographics, on taxation rates, on the state's finances are made publically available precisely so that voters can arrive at reasoned, rational and nuanced decisions as to whom they should vote for. Governments are judged by evidence of the efficacy of their policies. Analysis conducted by political scientists William Riker, Michael Davis and Michael Ferrantino show that where negative campaigning is permitted, even politicians with no history of running attack campaigns will adopt aggressive electoral tactics. If a politician wins on a positive platform- by promising to implement new policies and reform existing ones- then his chances of re-election will be affected by his success or failure in bringing about those changes. The electorate is able to test and assess a politician's positive claims. However, if a politician campaigns on a negative platform, portraying his opponent as incompetent or his policies as damaging, an electoral victory will make such claims unassailable. The attacking politician will be free to state that his election has prevented the dire consequences he warned from coming about. Non one will be able to prove otherwise, notwithstanding the spluttering of his defeated opponent. Moreover, negative portrayals of candidates and policies, as noted above, are more likely to dominate media coverage, than the sober, balanced information produced by academics and analysts. This line of argument also leads to equally damaging distortion of the attacking candidate's platform and proposals. By diverting resources to negative campaigning and attack adverts, candidates have less time and money to expend on the creation of positive policies. Indeed, the fewer testable claims that a candidate makes about his own policies, the less likely he is to be subject to effective criticism by opponents or the electorate if he takes up office.


=Negative case=

Negative ad- an approach to advertising that focuses on negative aspects of a rival product or candidate

Observation: You prefer the status quo to change by default. You need a very compelling reason to change the sqou not just because what works in the present will likely work in the future, but also to compensate for unintended consequences. For example, while the passage of the lend-lease act and the oil embargo on Japan seemed like good ideas at the time, in reality they led to US involvement in WWII and cost thousands of American lives.

1: Unconstitutional

The United States Supreme Court has ruled that freedom of speech can only be restricted when there is a "clear and present danger"[1]. Since my opponents arguments are US specific, he needs to weigh it under this criteria: that is, what damage do attack ads do that they violate the National Security of the United States? Given that he has not, he already loses the debate by default because the resolution can only be affirmed if there is a practical chance of affirmation being implemented. Without that, we have no way to weigh the effects of the changes from the status quo and therefore no debate. People, including politicians and their campaigns, have the right to speak as they choose. To deny this is a mountain to climb for my opponent.

2: No objective metric

My opponent has failed to explain what qualifies as a "negaitve ad" and who gets to decide this. Do attacks on an incumbents record count as an attack ad? Until he clarifies the meaning of this, he cant win the debate. I argue further that he still cannot win since there is no objective metric for "rude" "attack" "negative" ect.

3: Undermines political process

Attack ads are often unfounded ad hominems, but on occasion they are the exposition of legitimate flaws in the policies of ones opponent. Part of coming to an intelligent decision is the evaluation of the strengths/weaknesses of the candidates in question. It should be overwhelmingly obvious that politicians will only show their strengths. Banning political ads would cause a candidate with a glaring but hidden flaw to go unvetted since campaigns would not be allowed to outline the weaknesses in their opponent. Consider my opponents plan similar to if in this debate we were not allowed to attack eachothers arguments, just present argument after argument in our own favor. That is not a debate, it's madness.


The resolution presumes that banning negative ads would end negative campagning. That's foolish, even if their was a ban on attack ads, the attacks on opponents would get even nastier to compensate in speeches and door-to-door capigining (refer to his England example as a premium glimpse into a post attack ad world)

=Affirmative case=

C1: Apathy

--> Correlation causation fallacy. My opponent claims that his study supplies casual links, but he doesn't name it nor cite the article itself. Throw out the entire contention on this basis.

--> No stats on if attack ads increased while voter turnout decreased. His argument lacks not only causation, but correlation as well.

--> No impact argued on lower voter turnout, he presumes it's inherently bad. I argue that is an individual cannot come to a decision when confronted with the strengths and weaknesses of each candidate than their vote is likely irrational. So TURN: attack ads keep voters from voting specifically on the way candidates portray themselves.

--> The reason that politicians are generally portrayed as corrupt is because they are corrupt. Democracy ensures that only dangerous and power hungry individuals will rise to power.
--> My opponent makes a lot of assertions. Lets address these.

A1. No attack ads keeps media from focusing on petty things.

He misunderstands how the media works. It exists to sell itself, not report the truth. There is no reason to believe that banning negative ads will lead to the media refusing to report whatever scandals politicians are currently in, and even less reason to desire that result.

A2. Has voters more informed.

False. Banning negative ads forces voters only to look at the positive sides of each candidate, reducing elections to popularity contests even more than they already are.

A3. Banning neg ads makes politicians connect to more voters

He gives you only shallow reasoning to believe this, resting the entire claim on the assumption that attack ads are meant to demoralize a politicians base. This is unwarranted, because attack ads are meant to convince swing voters that a candidates opposition is an unacceptable choice. He gives no empirical evidence anyway.

C2: Candidates are out of control

--> He argues that candidates need to be controlled in order to behave properly. This is illogical. Why would voters choose a candidate who can't behave respectfully? They likely wouldn't
--> He begs the question as to who will regulate the candidates free speech. Governments around the world are so inept that they can't even keep their finances in order, yet he expects them to come up with an objecive and fair way to evaluate if an ad is negative or not? Lets get real.

--> Literally his only example doesn't even apply. Going door to door and insulting your opponent is not an ad, so it isnt something that could be regulated under the resolution.

Counterplan: Media choice

If a campaign runs an offensive ad, the media likely would not air it, and the only press a candidate would get from it would be negative for daring to run an ad so offensive.

--> My opponent brings up the famed Democratic Daisy ad against Goldwater, but argues no impact from it. Johnsons campaign insinutated that Goldwaters libertarian policies would weaken the US against the USSR and cause what? Why does this matter? The fact is that Goldwater WOULD HAVE been softer on the USSR than Johnson was, and could have allowed for Soviet hegemony because of his isolationist policies. Again, TURN: attack ads highlight weaknesses.

C3: Bad government

--> My opponent posits that if attack ads were banned, actual policy discussion would be the rule of the game in policial campaigns. He needs to prove that this has worked in another country before he can cite it, because we all know that the most damning flaw of democracy is that most voters have no idea on proper policy and economic law. Until he proves that it would lead to voters making decisions based on rational thought (as if), he gains no advantage.

--> My opponent argues: "If a politician wins on a positive platform- by promising to implement new policies and reform existing ones- then his chances of re-election will be affected by his success or failure in bringing about those changes."

Lolwut? Failing to keep a promise is a negative aspect of a candidate and would not be allowed in the affirmative world. Again TURN: No attack ads doesnt allow voters to see weaknesses in a candidates positions.

--> He gives no argument on why viewing politicians as evil is bad, considering that most if not all of them are utterly corrupt.

--> He tries to argue that politicans spend less money on having an actual platform. 1. It is far more likely that without attack ads politicians would spend their money not on touting their platforms, but rather touting themselves. They would portray themselves as heros more than they aready do, since voters generally do not base their vote on anything rational. 2. No impactm his argued impact is fallacious because it presumes that a candidate running a negative campaign will govern in that same way. He gives you no reason to believe that.

In conclusion, without attack ads there is no way to look at the weaknesses of an opponent. Voters generally don't understand how to implement successful policy, but they do know the damaging effects of failed policies. For this reason, attack ads have value as political tools.


Debate Round No. 2


I will refute cons arguments

Con 1: Unconstitutional

The attack ads are not unconstitutional because the supreme court has but limits to the first amendment and the limits include attack ads.

Con 2: No objective metric

Negative ads are one that directly attack other candidates. Hope that is clear now

Con 3: Undermines Political Process

The corporations provide the money for these political ads and the banning of these ads are the same as banning corporations from the elections


My opponent drops all of my attacks on his arguments, extend them all.

He claims that SCOTUS has limits on freedom of speech. Unfortunately, I've already shown what those limits were and he failed to prove that attack ads constituted a "clear and present" danger, so I'll just extend that and urge a vote of negation.

He misunderstands my second point, and moreover his response reinforces my third point. There is no objective way to determine what is or isnt a direct attack, and more importantly TURN: banning direct attacks on an opponents policies is the best way to ifnorm voters of their drawbacks.

I have no idea what he means to say by his response to my third point. Campaigns, not corporations, run ads although corporations d donate to campaigns. Finance reform is a different issue entirely.

He dropped my attacks and didnt respond properly to my points. Vote Con.
Debate Round No. 3


He dropped literally all of my attacks on his arguments, and barely touched mine, but still asks you to vote Pro. No, lol.

vote Con
Debate Round No. 4
2 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Posted by BlackVoid 5 years ago
Oh wow, it wont show the % sign at all.
Posted by BlackVoid 5 years ago
Lol, my first vote I accidentally left out the % sign, and it read pretty funny.
3 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 3 records.
Vote Placed by Xerge 5 years ago
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Total points awarded:03 
Reasons for voting decision: Pro dropped many argruments of Con's case at the end of the debate, leaving them unrefuted.
Vote Placed by BlackVoid 5 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: Pro drops 70 of Con's arguments in R3, then drops them all in R4.
Vote Placed by royalpaladin 5 years ago
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Total points awarded:05 
Reasons for voting decision: This is a solidly clear Con win. Con proves that it is unconstitutional and that it undermines the political process; Pro had no substantive response. Limiting free speech is a violation of the first amendment, lol. Con's Kritik was unnecessary but interesting. It was also entirely conceded by the Pro.