By Gary Gillen
Dirty Politics and the End of Non-partisan Races
“He supports Affirmative Action, raising taxes and amnesty for illegal immigrants…”
“He’s a Tea Party Republican”
In our last issue I discussed political advertising and what constitutes “dirty politics.” I encouraged you to look for “provable” statements in political advertising. Read the two lines above again. Both lines sound like honest, provable statements. It is entirely plausible that a liberal Democratic candidate might state publicly that he supports all three issues in the first line when appealing to party faithful.A Democratic candidate might want to send this message to likely Democratic voters.
The second line, too, might be a position a conservative Republican candidate would publically state when addressing his supporters.If you are a conservative and support the ideals of the Tea Party movement the second line might make you vote for the candidate. Therefore, a Tea Party Republican would want Republican voters to know he identifies with that party and its beliefs.
And both statements might be honest and provable statements in a political race. In fact, both statements were used in a recent race for City Council of Missouri City.
What if we reversed the intended recipients of each message? In mail pieces and automated phone calls sent to Republican voters the first line was used to describe a candidate. Certainly conservative voters would not want to support a candidate who wants to raise taxes and give amnesty to people who broke our laws to get here.The second line went to Democratic households who, presumably, would not support a member of the Tea Party, seen in Texas as conservative.
You might recall that political communications in Texas must carry a political disclaimer so that the reader will know who funded the communication. I reviewed several political mailers in this race and they did not have the required political disclaimer so we cannot tell who sent them. The automated telephone calls did not inform the person receiving the call who originated them. Simply said, voters, who might consider the source of a message in determining its credibility, received these messages by phone and mail with no way to determine the likely accuracy and honesty of the message. The sender, in violation of Texas law, is a mystery. And it is little wonder why these vicious and mean spirited people would hide behind secrecy.
It is because these illegal and dishonest political communications are talking about the same candidate! Neither of these statements is true. By sending a message stating the candidate is a liberal to Republican households and tellingDemocratic households that the candidate is an extreme conservative this dishonest shadow campaign succeeded in ousting a sitting City Councilman who, I am told, served the citizens well. Apparently the originators of this message believe the end justifies the means.They can break the law and lie as long as they win. But even if he had not been a good City Councilman, this is not the waygood people win elections. Apparently they believed their candidate could not win in an honest election. They failed to trust the voters enough to let them decide on their leadership through honest and transparent means and, instead, used deception, dishonesty and secrecy to fool the voters. And shame on the voters for accepting these statements without doing just a little homework. Now that’s dirty politics.
It is apparent that truly “non-partisan” political races are a thing of the past in Fort Bend County. Fort Bend County Democratic Party Chairman Don Bankston, in a letter addressed to “Dear Democrats” stated, “we have
some excellent Democratic candidates” for Fort Bend School Board and City of Missouri City races. In the race for Missouri City Council “Chris (Preston) is a strong Democrat and supporter of President Obama.” Preston beat incumbent Danny Nguyen who was the victim of the above mentioned illegal and dishonest advertising.
Fort Bend Republican Chairman Mike Gibson said the GOP “did not actively engage in the campaign because the local races were non-partisan.” Sounds like a decision the Republicans of Fort Bend County should reconsider. That’s just how I see it.