A few years ago (September 2008), an editorial appeared here that expressed the thought that Hawaii as a whole - and Maui, in particular - was lucky that it didn't have the kind of negative campaigning that was sweeping the Mainland.
In fact the editorial concluded that, "Despite the change in the times and politics in general, the island's distaste for 'talking stink' and shouting still seems in force on Maui. For that, we can all be grateful."
To a large extent, that is still true. Our local races seem to be mostly civil. A few statewide races, though, have been pretty nasty. It started out with a couple of PACs slinging some mud around, but the candidates themselves have gone into attack mode in recent weeks.
Political experts on television say there is a simple reason why we see more and more attack ads - they work. An opponent can be destroyed with selective use of a voting record, dubious ties to other politicians or ideologies, and innuendo about secret agendas.
In short, it is much more effective to attack the other side's deficiencies - real or invented - than espouse plans and positions for dealing with governmental problems. After all, voicing an opinion on how to solve a problem opens a politician up to another negative ad attacking that position.
It is sad, though, that "talking stink" is gaining a foothold in our state's politics. That long-ago editorial idealistically recommended, "Officials should be elected on the basis of issues - nationally and locally. Attack tactics are successful only if the voters allow them to be."
In the blizzard of attack ads, though, it is hard to know where candidates stand on issues. The only time one hears a candidate's stance on an important issue is when the other side is distorting it.
* Editorials reflect the opinion of the publisher.