David Rodeback's Blog
Local Politics and Culture, National Politics,
Tuesday, November 8, 2005
Election Day Miscellany and Two Related Thoughts
Here's the miscellany:
Here are those thoughts. At least, they started out as thoughts.
Issues themselves are not special interests. (I'll spare you the logical explanation, but I also checked three dictionaries, just for the fun of it.) Groups which advocate or lobby for specific policies or in narrow policy areas are special interests. So the Parks and Recreation Commitee, though an official City entity, might be considered a special interest, but that doesn't mean that improving our parks and recreation facilities and programs is a special interest, or that Councilman LeBaron is a special interest candidate because he is such an effective advocate for them. Downtown American Fork, Inc., could be considered a special interest, but that doesn't mean that candidates who participate in that organization are special interest candidates. If LeBaron were running on a promise to do as little as possible about everything else and to focus on parks and recreation, he would be a special interest candidate. If Thompson were running on a promise to ignore every other interest and obligation as much as possible, and focus on a sparkling downtown, he would be a special interest candidate.
Neither of the candidates is doing that sort thing; they both have much broader, saner platforms. That's good. We don't want special interest candidates governing us, or candidates who are unduly under the sway of some special interest. We want them to weigh many interests and act for the welfare of the whole city. Assuming his declarations to be sincere (always shaky ground in campaign season, with virtually any candidate, but it's more fun than assuming they're not), LeBaron is genuinely concerned that Thompson's intended pursuit of a better downtown will be bad for the rest of the city. I think he's misreading his opponent and the importance of downtown. Then again, I essentially live downtown, so I suppose I have my biases, too.
CUTTING CANDIDATES SOME SLACK
In any case, more than many voters I know, I am willing to cut a candidate some slack if he goes a bit overboard in the process of trying to highlight the differences between himself and his opponent. I'll also allow for passion to overcome good sense from time to time, even in print. I will even make some allowance for political candidates acting like politicians sometimes, dancing around issues rather than standing firmly, making promises they shouldn't make (no personnel changes, really?), garbling their messages on occasion, and even coming across sometimes as a bit too slick. But, my allowances notwithstanding, all of these things have a political cost. It's a bit of black magic (or good polling, if you have the time and cash) identifying the line beyond which these tactics begin to offend more voters than they attract. I can tell you where that line is for me as a voter; its location is somewhat different for my wife and many others I know. It's different from one community to another, too.
In case you're wondering, some things are clearly over even my line. Thursday's full-page attack on Terry Fox would cross my line with any candidate, whether I supported or opposed that candidate. Personally, I can forgive Councilman Storrs in the sense that I'll say hello and shake his hand and wish him well and feel sorry for an otherwise nice man who has done someone so stupid in so public a way. (At least he admitted his role. Others haven't admitted theirs.) But, politically, I will never vote for him again, given any decent alternative, or be inclined rely on his support for any political matter of importance to me.
In another setting, however, asking at least some of those questions would have been in-bounds, in my view. If there were questions which needed to be asked publicly, they should have been asked at the beginning of the campaign, when they, the answers, and the motives of the various parties could be examined. If there is any actual evidence of misconduct, it should have been presented early on, so that exculpatory evidence could also be fairly considered. That's political.
As it is, no evidence has been presented to the public at all, and the attack was clearly timed to destroy, not to inform. That's not political. That's despicable, malevolent, and unmistakably contrary to the interest of good government.
Copyright 2005 by David Rodeback.