Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Primary Campaign Cannibalism

The full-scale war that is being waged for the LD 18 Senate Seat reminds me of a similar battle that was waged in our district in the not-so-distant past. Four years ago Rep. Karen Johnson and Dr. Mary Jo Vecchiarelli squared off in a primary campaign for the LD 18 Senate seat being vacated by Mark Anderson. We had a comparatively large group of active PC's working in the district at the time and this particular campaign split us pretty much down the middle, with half of us going with Rep. Johnson and half with Dr. Vecchiarelli. At times the verbal attacks and ripostes between these two were very entertaining, but the overall effect was damaging to our district as a whole. The decline in active PC's over the years since this contest seem to indicate that we are still dealing with the consequences of those attacks. I'm sure that there are several other factors which have contributed to our decline in PC activity in LD 18 over the past few years but I can't help noticing that the active individuals who supported Dr. Vecchiarelli in that contest four years ago have mostly vanished from our meetings. And, unfortunately, they have taken their strength with them.

The problem with these types of dirty campaigns is the wedge they drive between good people who probably agree with each other on at least 95% of the other issues. It seems that our claims and counter-claims of Republican orthodoxy can make us so dogmatic that we can't clearly see the other person's point of view. If we could see clearly I am sure that most of the time we would find our differences to be more about tactics than principles.

The primary campaign that is going on right now is a perfect example of how bad things can get. The personal attacks directed at Rep. Pearce during this campaign and the responses from all camps have made the atmosphere of our district more like a war zone than a free and open political forum. Instead of being excited about whichever candidate we are supporting, we are perpetually angry at the other candidate. This bunker mentality distracts us from the other real issues we need to focus on if we are to win in November, both on a local and a national level.

I realize that in any contest we have to point out differences, but we don't need to attack people's character for having a different point of view. It is also OK to approach each contest with an open mind about the different candidates and their ideas. We only help the other party when we engage in sandbagging each other. The truly Reaganesque thing to do in these types of contests is to stick strictly to the issues and obey the 11th Commandment - "Thou Shalt Not Criticize Thy Fellow Republicans".

In those instances when we have a candidate who simply can't seem to abide by this simple commandment we silence them in the most effective and permanent manner possible - we soundly defeat them at the ballot box.

(I realize that this post is probably a little too idealistic and might even open me up to accusations of hypocrisy, but I am really getting sick and tired of the personal attacks that are going around, not just in our district but in Republican races throughout the state. Do we really need this much cannibalism? Look at what it is doing to our party!)

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