Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Après lui, le déluge

The kitchen sink runneth over.

The fact that many would fall prey to such a desperate, Rovian grab-bag of distortion and misrepresentation brings home a truth that, now more than ever, must be recognized--a truth about us.

As long as we remain susceptible to negative campaigning--as long as we allow inchoate fear and primitive doubt to overwhelm our capacity to understand and check the facts--we will get the winners we deserve--namely, those who win ugly.

Democracy takes more than participation--a goal we have yet to achieve--it also takes a willingness to apply thought over fear.

We have been trained to respond to fear appeals aimed at the pursuit of electoral success very well over the past 7 years--and at this point, we should begin to become inured to them. In plain speaking: we should wise up.

The Clinton camp has discovered a formula that, at least in the days of its brief burst of novelty, has worked. We can expect a deluge of such tactics in the coming weeks.

However, despite a sink that will likely fill to bursting--paired, of course, with the conciliatory words that are meant to justify and allow further attacks--we now have time to adjust and evaluate.

We can and should do so.

A campaign that wins in adversity by the use of distortion and fear will govern in adversity in the same manner.

Note, as a single example, today's report by the CBC that Canadian Prime Minister Harper's chief of staff, Ian Brodie, was indeed the source the leak of supposed quotes regarding NAFTA--and that Clinton's team had also allegedly told Harper to "take her NAFTA concerns with a grain of salt."

This is the true "red phone" lesson, one that we should remember over the coming weeks. Overcome vague appeals to fear and unproven distortion. In the slowly receding shadow of these past two terms, pursue reality. In the face of appeals to induced doubt, unproven "experience", and dark insinuation, tenaciously learn--and vote--the facts.

-Dr. Alan J. Lipman