The reason is simple. I have been involved a little in a few people running for office and frankly I am not impressed. Not that they aren't great people who can do much for our community, but that I have seen them, get so caught up in the campaign that they do things that are not in their nature. I hope I would never do that and part of that is documenting my principles up front. Also, these are things that I look for in candidates. They are not deal breakers, but I take them into account in deciding who will get my support and vote.
Principle #1: Speak no evil of others running. My job is to tell you why I would be a good choice not why others would not be.
Imagine walking into an interview for a new position. The boss interviewing you says, "Why would you be a good fit for this job?"
You look her in the eye and say, "I saw Johnny just walk out, and I know you are interviewing him as well, so I thought you ought to know that Johnny is an idiot and would do a very lousy job."
"Thank you." She reply's, "but why would you make a good candidate?"
"Did I mention Johnny got fired from his last job because of drinking?"
"This is your interview, please tell me why you are the right person?"
"And by the way Johnny hates cats."
"Listen," She says in frustration, "I need to know why YOU would do good in this job?"
"Oh, all right...because, I'm not Johnny."
While this situation is utterly ridiculous. I have seen it played out in campaigns all across the county. Politicians spend millions in telling you how lousy the other candidate/candidates are and essentially hope you will cast your ballot for them. Why? because at least they aren't the other guy. No wonder we so often feel forced to vote for the lesser of two evils. All we have heard about is the evil sides of both candidates.
I am a big believer in knowing what your job is and doing it. When you are running for office your campaign is your interview. Your job is to answer peoples questions honestly and give them the information to vote for you or not.
In a regular job interview the person conducting the interview has several sources of information. The person answering the questions and of course the interviewer also has reference checks to verify information about the candidate. In politics, those reference checks do need to be done. These are done by media, endorsements, and talking to those who know the candidates best. Not by asking the other candidates.
I don't think we realize how deeply harmful the practice of mudslinging is to our politics and society. When 90% of what we hear about someone is negative, I don't care how good the person is, we will not trust them or want to work with or around them. Mudslinging downgrades the winners ability to govern once they are elected, no matter who wins. It erodes trust in our politicians and the process. It emboldens obstructionism. It encourages tribalism. And saddest of all, it works. That is why it is growing. That is why it is widely used in almost every campaign.
But work or not. It is wrong. It is harmful and at some point in the future if I run for office it is my commitment not to do it. In the meantime, I will look for candidates who avoid the temptation to fling mud across the bow. And encourage candidates to focus on the question, "Why are YOU the right person for the job?" And if their only answer is that they are not someone else, than I think we should pass.