Saturday, May 15, 2010

Spin Cycle

Remember that avalanche of campaign mail that I mentioned seemed to be refreshingly scarce this time around?

Four days before the election, I did see an uptick in my mailbox, but to my amazement, I seem to have generated some of it. I guess the post office can thank my opponent for contributing toward their job security.  Of course, all of the mail consisted of negative campaign mailers.

Predictably, they aren't  from my opponent, but from people who aren't candidates in the race  at all, and who have their own agenda for wanting my opponent to win. One of them is desperately trying to hold onto his own seat in another area.

One of the things that people claim when polled about politics is that they hate negative ads and negative campaigning. Yet, in election after election, regardless of level, negative ads are effective more often than not. I suspect people don't feel comfortable telling a pollster that they enjoy seeing mud slung, but the truth is, if the 11 o' clock news and the newspaper did nothing but report positive information, most of us wouldn't bother to pay attention.

I guess the main problem I have with them is not their negativity; I think if there is information that one needs to know to make informed decision, voters should have it. What I and many people object to is their vagueness (if it's not an outright fabrication). Often, there is a tiny kernal of truth, usually about some innocuous subject, yet an entire statement is spun around it that leads one to think something completely different than what the truth really is.

I liken it to putting dots out there, and stating them in such a way that the voter draws the line connecting the two. Whether he or she connects them correctly is irrelevant; the hope is that the voter will be misled and take 2+2 and arrive at 5.

For example, one statement claimed I voted for an ordinance that allowed developers to contribute less open space. That's wrong. I voted for an ordinance (05-119) that reduced residential lot size in R4 from 10 acres to 5 acres, in an effort to create more affordable housing options.  There is very little zoned R4 here as it is. The mailer, of course, didn't bother to point out that I also voted for an ordinance preserving the Indian Head Dam (05-81).

Another point was that I supported nonendorsed candidates for supervisor in the general election, which is not true. I worked hard to support them in the primary, and as I was a private citizen at the time, I could support anyone I wanted to. I did not work for any candidates in the general election at all - but even if I had wanted to, our current Republican committee would not have let me - they've rebuffed all my attempts to be involved with them, which is why I have had to find my own ways to be involved. They, including my opponent, are simply  not interested in welcoming anyone with new ideas and new energy for the party.

Obviously anyone elected committeeperson has a duty to support in the general,  whomever voters select in the primary . I understand that and would abide by it,  but I suppose my opponent's friends are trying to say that I don't have any right as an ordinary citizen to support whomever I want to. That doesn't make me any less of a Republican; what it means is I am an independent thinker.

They also made much of the fact that I initiated a petition challenge against my opponent. Petition challenges are very common. Everybody who knows me knows I'm very competitive, and if you lower your guard for a moment, I will capitalize on it. My opponent was not diligent, and it almost cost her. She has never extended me any courtesies or cut me any slack, and I did not think I owed her any in return. That's just business, and I don't take it personally. Neither should she. 

In my own campaigns in the past, I refused to do negative mailers. Some people told me that maybe I didn't have the stomach for it. Many women don't. I do, but I try to take the high road whenever possible - at least as a first course of action.  I didn't go there, despite having good information I could have used. My opponent, and her friends, all did put out negative information about me, and I lost.

But, this time, I  too put out what one could call a negative mailer. The difference is, as a paralegal I understand that not telling the truth, especially in writing, can have dire consequences, something my opponent has discovered the hard way. Everything I put on my mailer about my opponent, I can back up with documents. There's no 'spin'.  I can sleep at night knowing that.

I realize many things go into whether one candidate wins or loses. The wrong message, lack of name recognition, and an ineffective campaign strategy can sink you just as much if not more so than negative campaign ads.  At the end of the day, it's the total combination that matters.

And at the end of the day, win or lose, I'll know I did  my best, told the truth, was true to myself, and made a ton of new friends.

In the meantime, we still have to listen to all the Sestak-Specter ads for another few days. I think we'll all be glad when those are off the air.


Patricia said...

I am just now sitting down to look at all the mail I've been getting and really like your message, your energy leaps off the page and the party needs more people like you. Good luck and I will be there to support you rain or shine. Oh and I would be delighted to have a yard sign.

Anonymous said...

We're on Circle Drive and haven't been home when you stopped but just wanted to say you have our vote - good luck on Tuesday!

Lisa Mossie said...

Good luck tomorrow, Janice!