David Broder has written another op-ed piece criticizing American campaign politics {May 20}. What seems to offend Mr. Broder is the amount of negative campaigning that has become the trademark of American politics. According to Mr. Broder, such campaign tactics disserve the American public.

As Mr. Broder must concede, negative politics works in the sense that it gets candidates elected. Since it works, it must be what the electorate wants to hear. However, Mr. Broder seems to suggest that politicians refrain from negative campaign tactics; in other words, they refrain from telling the public what it wants to hear. There is a demand for negative campaigning in the political marketplace that politicians supply.

Negative campaigning serves an important function. As a member of the public, I want to know who "donates" money to my representative. However, when one candidate exposes another candidate's "contributors," Mr. Broder classifies this as negative. I also want to know about the personal life of the candidates. In 1988, didn't the public have a right to know that Gov. Dukakis' wife had a drinking problem? How can a president with such a family problem effectively run the country? Yet, if Lee Atwater had used this in a commercial, Mr. Broder would have undoubtedly called foul.

Since I cannot vote on every issue, I base my vote on the candidate's character and personal judgment. A campaign based solely on issues would do injustice to the electorate. In 1988, who knew that the main foreign policy issue of 1990 would be the existence of NATO? If any issues were discussed in 1988 concerning Europe, they would be irrelevant now.

Accordingly, isn't it more important to know about a candidates personal skills and judgment? The more I know about a candidate's background, the better. To some voters, the fact that Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) is a homosexual may be irrelevant. To me, however, it is relevant. One man's mud may be another man's criterion. Contrary to Mr. Broder, I say let the public establish the criteria by which it elects its representatives. Negative campaigning will subside as soon as the public wants it to. ANDRE R. FIEBIG Arlington