Let’s face it, Kansas isn’t exactly known for its dynamic election seasons.
The biggest fights we usually see are between conservative Republicans and even-more-conservative Republicans. When Democrats win, they usually do so by running as a slightly-less-conservative Republican. We watch the national contests and chuckle a bit, knowing there’s no way we would ever see such a thing here.
Well, now we are. Kansas is finally getting to see what happens when political consultants have more money than they can rationally spend.
Thanks to the high-profile race between GOP Rep. Roger Marshall and Democratic state Sen. Barbara Bollier, you can’t avoid attack ads. They’re on your web browser. They’re in your YouTube videos. They’re jammed between commercial breaks on your favorite TV shows. They’re crammed into your mailbox.
Marshall vs. Bollier is a classic Kansas race in one way — it’s a race between a conservative Republican and a former not-that-conservative Republican. But it’s also an unexpectedly competitive race, with money pouring in from both sides. That means the ads are more present, and more insistent, than seen before.
Bollier’s ads feature lots of Republicans who will be proud to vote for her. Marshall’s ads feature lots of ominous imagery about supposedly evil and extremist Democrats. Lately, we’ve noticed anti-Marshall ads popping up as well.
These aren’t the only negative ads, of course. Next month, the state will also be voting for U.S. House and state legislative seats. We have a lot of races in which to spread emotionally manipulative misinformation.
Don’t let yourself be used. If you see an ad or piece of mail that alarms and upsets you, take a moment to consider why. Is the advertisement using a specific issue or trigger word to evoke an emotional response? Why do you think you’re seeing the ad?
Online companies — Google, Facebook, Twitter,and the like — collect vast amounts of data about their users. Likewise, publicly available data is collected by companies and sold to political operatives. Your political leanings and key issues are likely known, and you’re likely being shown ads meant to rile you up.
If you’re overwhelmed, it’s time to take a step back. Look for legitimate news sources and solid reporting, from sources like The Topeka Capital-Journal and other fine newspapers and online outlets.
Take the time you need to learn and be comfortable with your vote. Don’t let this tidal wave of negative misinformation sway you.