I got an email yesterday from the Pat Edmonson for LG campaign. Glancing only at the headline, I moved on to the next message in my too full mailbox. Seeing this post last night, though, caused me to go back and read it.
Last week, Pat began receiving hate emails containing racist, sexist, and homophobic rhetoric. These emails were also sent to members of the Hampton Roads community. They were followed with threats against the candidate. Now, blogs have been used to perpetuate attacks against Pat.
Pat knows that women in politics face real challenges, but there is no place in Virginia political discourse for these sort of attacks. Pat has been called names like “slut” and “dyke”, and her husband (who is African American) has been referenced by racial epithets.
When all else fails, attack the candidate. Not for his or her positions, but personally. It’s the way politics is done. Most of the public – even if the MSM reports it – will shrug this off as politics as usual.
Doing so is a mistake.
There should be no room in our politics for such behavior. That there is demonstrates that the politicians who run things are willing to do or say whatever is necessary – true or not – in order to win. Further, it demonstrates that the voters are just where the politicians want them to be: on the sidelines, letting the few make the choice on who our candidates will be.
The people have been lulled – by their own inaction – into a sense that politics is dirty and that’s just the way it is. But it doesn’t have to be. There are a lot more of us than there are of them. If we wanted to, we could change the way politics is done. But far too many are “too busy” to get involved, the result being the kind of attacks that Pat Edmonson and others experience, attacks that divert the candidate’s attention away from the real issues of jobs, healthcare, education and others.
When asked what kind of government had been chosen by the Constitutional Convention of 1787, Bemjamin Franklin is purported to have said, “A Republic, if you can keep it.” Whenever I see personal attacks on candidates go unremarked, when I see our choices as voters limited by the inside baseball of backroom politics, I am reminded just how dangerously close we are to not keeping it.
UPDATE: I just received via email a statement from Jon Bowerbank, as follows:
“With the economy in crisis and more and more Virginians losing their jobs every day, the last thing we need in this campaign is personal and hateful attacks that impede, rather than contribute to, solving the problems we face in Virginia and in our nation. Messages of hate have no place in this campaign, this Commonwealth, and this country.”