We made it! We have been released from the torrent of negative political ads that poisoned our airwaves from coast to coast.

Actually, it’s worse than that. Negative advertising taints our faith in government. When candidates and their supporters stretch, mangle and spin the truth to justify outrageous claims against their opponents, there are no winners.

Sure, someone will win the election, and we know that negative ads can work. But they leave a terrible taste in our mouths for all politicians, the winners as well as the losers. When candidates portray each other as liars, cheats, thieves and worse, how can we possibly feel good about government?

Negative political ads are a clear example of marketing for short-term gain at the expense of long-term benefit.

When we fail to communicate authentically, simply and clearly, we’re not helping anyone. We may sell our products once, but we’ll lose repeat sales and customer loyalty. We have to tell the truth.

Any fabrication or stretching of the truth reflects poorly on the advertiser. We’ve all heard the adage, “a rising tide lifts all boats.” Well, the opposite is true, too. When advertisers lower the standard of discourse, when they appeal to our baser instincts, they may get a short-term win. But it’s a hollow victory. They may have made a sale today, but if the message isn’t honest, consumers will stop trusting you and your industry. Think about conventional used car ads.

For marketers, this is not news. But it’s something the politicians and their consultants have yet to learn. What’s the value of winning today if you lose the trust of your target audience? This behavior just spawns another generation of attack ads and leads to rejection of the products (candidates) we just chose.

So wise up, politicos! Take a tip from marketers who understand the value of customer loyalty. What you do is far too important to drag us through the mud to make a quick sale. I know it’s a lot to ask, but try the truth, focus on benefits, and bring us into the process instead of turning us off.