Smear campaigns, dirty tricks – these are part and parcel to the political process. It has been so as long as people have tried to sway popular opinion.
It doesn’t have to be that way, especially in local politics. In many local elections it is hard enough to get local people to stand for election. It costs money, time and is a strain on already busy lives of one’s family.
As our national elections delve into new lows in what passes for decorum among candidates, we see it bubbling up not only in state politics but in our local elections too.
With the internet and social media we have the opportunity to reach a wider audience with a high degree of anonymity.
I think a new low was reached in Roswell when repugnant slugs actually stapled copies of a candidate’s divorce decree on her campaign signs. Such slimy behavior is of course reprehensible which is why the perpetrators remain anonymous.
Another reprehensible punk trick sent out anonymous email blasts accusing another Roswell council candidate of having a “secret mosque in his basement.” As if Muslims skulk around in people’s basements.
Mosques are not uncommon in North Fulton where we practice the freedom of religion the U.S. Constitution guarantees us all. So disseminating the scurrilous idea that a “secret” mosque is harbored among unsuspecting neighbors is designed to play upon fear and prejudice.
Of course one candidate makes no secret of his involvement with a Christian organization that helps Iranian Christians who do face persecution in their country. And he does invite Iranian Christians into his home for devotionals.
We pay lip service to the notion that we in this country are color blind and indulge in the free and open practice of religion. Yet such political shenanigans as these fray the fabric of the political process.
Now we will never rid our larger political frays of the dictum: All’s fair in love, war and politics.
So it was in the days of the founding fathers of this nation – if anything they were nastier than today. But we should demand common decency in our local elections.
To countenance this type of base behavior for a Roswell City Council election or any city does irreparable harm. When members of Roswell’s volunteer boards have their motives called into question and accused of baseless ulterior motives – as current council members have done – that goes too far.
Not only is it insulting, it cheapens the political process.
It also has a chilling effect that deters good citizens from coming forward and participating in community government. Shame on us for allowing such behavior to go this far.
The people who stand for office and serve with little thanks on volunteer boards do the community much service.
We should remember they have spouses and family in the community. To stand for office or serve on boards does not give license to treat these fellow citizens as if they had targets on their backs and hunting season is open.
I call on all of the candidates to foreswear such base practices and pledge to run on the merit of their ideas and leave dirty tricks to the professional politicians.