Last week the Sacramento County GOP, which is the local party for the state capital of the most populous state in the union, had image below on their the official website!
If you had any doubt that the GOP was promoting the message “Obama = Arab = Muslim = Terrorist!” this should put your doubts to rest. (To their credit, the state level party quickly had the material removed but that doesn’t undercut the broader campaign.)
One minor personal consequence of this tactic is that I am unable to go canvassing door-to-door in battleground states for either campaign. Can you imagine the reception I would encounter knocking on doors for the Obama campaign in West Virginia? Or how about ringing doorbells for McCain in Missouri?
Sure, I might be able to overcome the xenophobia and fear of certain voters, but that would make the exercise more about me than the candidate, with each minute spent explaining who I am taken away from time avalable to make the case for a particular campaign. No, that would be immensely selfish on my part.
Unfortunately, this leaves me with only one option if I want to participate in face-to-face persuasion of voters. I could pretend to be working for the opposition.
This was the game Osama Bin Laden seems to have played when created the appearance of favoring Kerry for President. This action was consequential, moving the national polls 2% in Bush’s favor at the time. Given the slim margin by which Kerry lost in Ohio, and therefore lost the election. one can spin a scenario in which bin Laden’s statement guaranteed Bush his second term.
Xenophobia judo is a fairly distasteful tactic to use. I’m hoping that voters recognize and punish rabidly racist campaining as tacky if nothing else.
Still, I want to put both parties on notice. If this happens again, I will get together 100 people from whatever group you are demonizing and we will join and actively campaign for your candidate. We will show up en masse in your campaign office, hand out leaflets, knock on doors, and publicly endorse you in every venue we can. We will be a more perfect karmic punishment for you than any Dante ever devised for the sinners in the Inferno. Consider yourself warned.
Since some of you are questioning my judgment in deciding not to go door to door, I want to give you a bit more context. I didn’t just make the decision not to go door-to-door in a vacuum. It’s based in part on my regular experiences with racism, but also on discussions with a series of friends who know a fair amount about local politics in these places. One of them is an older guy who has run campaigns in this region for 30 years, another is a younger guy who works with different groups as a consultant, helping them with GOTV (get out the vote) activities. They both agreed that I’d do more harm than good in the context of this election. All the others I’ve asked shared the same opinion.