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Our view: Memo to candidate Jeanne Ives: Dump the ad

By The Editorial Board
Posted on 2/9/2018, 1:00 AM

It is one thing for political advertising to oversimplify issues and ridicule an adversary. It is something altogether more repugnant when such oversimplification and ridicule are heaped on people rather than issues.

That distinction is at the black heart of the TV spot state Rep. Jeanne Ives unveiled last weekend in her bid to upset incumbent Gov. Bruce Rauner in the March 20 Republican primary.

You've probably seen it by now: a parade of smiling people "thank" Gov. Bruce Rauner for a variety of things. Then, a deep-voiced actor portraying a transgender woman in a red dress, says: "Thank you for signing legislation that lets me use the girls bathroom."

Says a young woman in a pink hat with ears: "Thank you for making all Illinois families pay for my abortions."

Says a young man wearing a bandanna over his face: "Thank you, Bruce Rauner, for opposing law enforcement and making Illinois a sanctuary state for illegal immigrant criminals."

It goes on, each of its images a crass reduction of human beings to juvenile, cartoon stereotypes. It's an approach unfortunate enough for its oversimplification of complex issues but made even more objectionable for its apparent eagerness to segregate and deride whole groups of people.

Last December, Ives told us in an editorial board interview that she understood the governor was the leader of people whose positions differ from hers, and that she knew she had to work with them.

This ad clearly suggests otherwise.

She defiantly told the City Club of Chicago this week that the ad was "edgy," and characterizes "the extreme positions Rauner took."

No, what it does is misstate the governor's actions and positions and, even worse, demeans ordinary Illinoisans who deserve respect, at least, if not support from their government.

We applaud Republicans like state GOP Chairman Tim Schneider, who denounced the ad.

"Reasonable people can disagree on policy issues, but when it goes to the point of mocking and denigrating the people of Illinois, that's just wrong," Schneider said.

Negative advertising is harmful in its own right. It breeds cynicism. It turns people away from voting at all. But the approach in the Ives ad takes cynicism to an ugly and personal new low. It ought to be rejected by anyone of any party who yearns for inclusive, understanding, productive messages from government leaders.

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