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EDITOR'S COLUMN: Our campaigns need to be dirtier
With the election safely over, I can now express my minority view that campaigns aren’t nearly dirty enough.
What passes for dirty campaigns, particularly at the local level, wouldn’t scandalize a Sunday school teacher in the Fundamentalist Church of You’re All Going to Perdition. Partisans howled with outrage when our state senator, Mary Margaret Haugen, was visually compared to former Soviet Premier Yuri Andropov, who lasted for only a year in 1982. Personally, I thought it was refreshingly original and showed that somebody at least is doing a little historical research by googling “1982.” It was better than the usual dosage of tax and spend criticism.
The stinky diaper campaign against Gov. Gregoire also was widely panned, even though it well illustrated the basic message of “it’s time for a change.” It may have been tasteless, but there was at least some effort at creativity which is more than we got from most of our politicians.
In researching 2008 campaign literature I dug through the garbage cans at the Oak Harbor Post Office, where most such material ends up. I was sorely disappointed by the paucity of political dirt. I was looking particularly for a hit piece against our state senator’s opponent, which prompted our senator to lambast her own party for sinking so low as to send it out. I figured it must be juicy, which prompted the exercise in postal dumpster diving. I was devastated to find that this particular hit piece simply compared candidate Linda Haddon to President Bush and his “failed economic policies.” This rated about a zero on the scale of 1 to 10 for scandalous political ads. But it at least had a concise message, which is more than could be said for the hundreds of other discarded political mailings in the post office garbage cans.
Most politicians are repulsively positive in their printed appeals. Some just list people and newspapers who endorse them, as if anyone cares. Others bravely call for a balanced budget, which in this state is required by law, while others courageously favored a “better future,” as if this is a novel idea. Hardly any politician passed up the opportunity to send voters family pictures of themselves, their children and grandchildren, proving that their reproductive systems are in good working order. It’s important to know that our politicians are fecund, because if they mess up so badly that the world as we know it is destroyed, they’ll climb out of their taxpayer-funded shelters and repopulate it with annoying little Democrats and Republicans.
What we need to do is return to our nation’s roots, when elections were battles without rules of engagement. Our Founding Fathers may be dead and dignified today, but in their time they were rascals, scalawags, backstabbers, traitors, reprobates, degenerates, libertines and anything else an anonymous pamphleteer could think to call them. Any past sin or transgression, real or imagined, found itself into print, and yet they all survived.
Great men and women can take the heat, otherwise they wouldn’t succeed. Next election let’s take off the gloves and have a little fun.