If you think (like me) that American politics is getting increasingly smelly, not smelling like a melting pot of ideas and groups but a septic tank of tactical seek-and-destroy moves that usually involve demonizing someone or another group, then here is more proof. Right Wing Watch:
Daniel Hernandez Jr., the former intern credited with helping to save Rep. Gabrielle Giffords’ life when she was shot in 2011 and now an elected member of a Tucson-area school board, is facing a nasty recall election in which his opponents are attacking him for being openly gay and for his advocacy on behalf of gun violence prevention.
The story behind the recall is the kind of byzantine saga found only in local politics. Four of the five members of the Sunnyside Unified School District, which includes parts of Tucson and surrounding areas, are now facing recall petitions – two members who faced recall for their support of an embattled schools superintendent turned around and filed recall petitions on two members, including Hernandez, who opposed the superintendent.
But the tactics being used against Hernandez are clear as day. A source in the district sends us two flyers that Hernandez’s opponents are reportedly handing out to parents dropping their children off at schools in the district. Right Wing Watch repeatedly tried to contact Marcos Castro, the manager of the effort to recall Hernandez and brother in law of school board president Louie Gonzalez, to discover whether the flyers came from his campaign, but Castro refused to take our calls.
As a former reporter I always note this in posts: the WORST THING a news source can do is to refuse to talk to a reporter on a story. Then an implication, assertion or perhaps false belief lingers. It is taken by the news publication (and some readers) as an unofficial confirmation of whatever it is the source is being accused of doing or enabling.
Here is the worst part:
The first attacks Hernandez for being openly gay, imploring, “Put a REAL Man on the Sunnyside Board…Daniel Hernandez is LGBT…We need someone who will support Sports and cares about our kids. We don’t need someone who hates our values.”
Go to the link and read the rest (there is more and graphics of the posters).
Some political operatives and/or volunteers at various levels don’t seem to get it. When they reek so terribly in the tactics they use, some voters who may not feel happy about both choices will vote against a party or candidate because of their tactics.
Of course, the candidate whose supporters are doing this could repudiate it.
Sometimes in campaigns workers go a bit haywire and cross a limit the candidate wouldn’t. The campaign or candidate then distances themselves.
And if they don’t? It means its a tacit endorsement of the behavior — and there are some voters who’ll feel the stench is too great to tolerate, so they’ll vote the other way. Even if they didn’t originally plan to vote the other way.
Joe Gandelman is a former fulltime journalist who freelanced in India, Spain, Bangladesh and Cypress writing for publications such as the Christian Science Monitor and Newsweek. He also did radio reports from Madrid for NPR’s All Things Considered. He has worked on two U.S. newspapers and quit the news biz in 1990 to go into entertainment. He also has written for The Week and several online publications, did a column for Cagle Cartoons Syndicate and has appeared on CNN.