Various Direct Links

02 June 2012

FollowUp 34: Wisconsin Republican Dirty Tricks

This is mostly a guest post.  My commentary is in the last four paragraphs.  Friends of mine in Wisconsin received mail today. They put the following into e-mail to me:

The front page of the 8.5x11 mailer displayed a simple enuf message:

********[Begin Quote]**********************

********[End Quote]*************************

And then there is the back (I have removed the name):

********[Begin Quote]**********************
Greater Wisconsin Political Fund
P.O. Box 861
Madison, WI 53701


[Our Address, addressed to my wife, NAME REMOVED]

Authorized and Paid for by Greater Wisconsin Political
Fund, Jane Gellman, Treasurer. Not Authorized by Any
Candidate, Candidate's Agent or Committee

Dear Registered Voter:

Scott Walker won in 2010 because too many people stayed home!

Two years ago, more than half a million Wisconsinites who supported Obama failed to vote in the 2010 election. And that's how Governor Scott Walker got elected. This year, we're taking a new approach. We're sending this mailing to you and your neighbors to publicize who does and who does not vote. [Italics and bold face, mine]

We need to all pull together. The chart shows the names of some of your neighbors, showing which have voted in the past.

After the June 5th election, public records will tell everyone who voted and who didn't

Do your civic duty - vote.

********[End Quote]*************************

They offer the following commentary:

With the exception of what I emphasized in Italics... If the add had stopped at this point I would not have had an issue with its message. Granted, the message in a sense is using straight-arm tactics to essentially shame and/or harass voters (specifically those who have not fulfilled their civic duty) into voting on June 5. Unfortunately, the flyer then prints the first and last names of each and every man and woman along with the physical address of where they live. The flyer also specifically lists which of these individuals had voted and who had not voted in prior elections, on November 8, and November 10 of preceding years.

Let me be clear on this point. I personally feel (and believe) everyone in this country should fulfill their civic duty and vote. However, that's just my personal opinion. Unfortunately, this flyer's straight-arm tactic of specifically listing the names and addresses of those who voted and DIDN'T vote was blatantly inappropriate. Reading this flyer felt like a violation of my right to privacy - to everyone's right to privacy. But it's far worse than that. The pubic distribution of a flyer of this nature potentially endangers the lives of those who specifically don't want their first and last names PUBLICLY listed alongside their physical address. This was information that was presumably distributed throughout local neighborhoods. God only knows where else this information has also now been distributed. Did it ever occur to those who created this flyer that there are individuals who are specifically trying to avoid publicly advertising their physical address. Did it ever occur to them that some of these individuals may be trying to avoid an abusive spouse or x-spouse, a stalker, or someone with ill-intent?

It gets worse. The message and strategic political intent is more likely to backfire. Setting the potential life-endangerment issue aside, if I, Joe Schmoe, was nothing more than an undecided voter, and individual still waffling on whether to vote for Walker or Barrett, does any political strategist with two working brain cells in their head really believe such straight-arm tactics would influence me to vote for Tom Barrett? Quite the opposite is more likely to happen. I would have felt personally violated. I would have assumed that liberal-minded democrats are once again being inappropriately intrusive, that a bunch of bleeding-heart liberals are once again trying to run my life. Those are precisely the kinds of issues conservative right-wing Republicans are most concerned about. This flyer will most certainly give them added incentive to go out and vote - for the other guy.

One last comment: It's possible, however ever remote that possibility might be, that this disgusting flyer is actually the work of another republican funded dirty trick operation... The objective: to "conquer and divide" liberal democrats and independent voters amongst each other, and to help nudge undecided voters to vote for Scott Walker. Yeah, it's still possible, and if so, it needs to be documented for the record so that those who were responsible for creating this crap are eventually prosecuted to the full extent of the law - after all the political campaigning is over and done with. But quite frankly, I don't think the "opposition" is that smart. Devious??? Most certainly. But smart???? NO. This is too sophisticated a scenario to have been thought out by the opposition, IMHO. I think it was our own damned fault.

Quite frankly, it seems to me that a more likely scenario was that a group of individuals (democrats and/or liberal minded individuals) terrified of the possibility that Scott Walker will once again get re-elected felt that the means justified the ends. Yes, I too am terrified of the thought that Walker could get re-elected. However, I don't want it on my head that my personal fears caused me to violate the rights, privacy, AND SAFETY of those who specifically didn't want their voting record and address publicly exposed in such a manner. That's not the kind of karma I want listed on my grave stone.

Back to comments from Some Teacher.

I then learned from another friend that e-mail address that is on the card is NOT valid.  Yet another friend who received the same card had a person listed as being on the voting rolls who has not lived in his house for a decade.  So, some information is out of date, but it does appear to be real information.  Four friends have sent me information so far.  This is reaching a wide area.

Time for a little searching.  The Wisconsin Democratic Underground has a thread discussing this card.  They included a link for the Greater Wisconsin Political Fund, a site that appears to be anti-Walker.  Attempts to contact the organization are unanswered so far and probably won't be answered until Monday at the soonest.  This is a last minute stunt that is either an inept effort at what it claims to be or a dirty trick.

There have been so many examples of Dirty Tricks since Mr. Walker took office that it would be easy to just accuse him of more.  Unlike my friend, I don't think that people need to fear for their safety if their voting record (that is the record of when, not for whom, they voted) is made public.  I share his concern that this card may act as a disincentive for voting on Tuesday.

Voting is incredibly important.  The election on Tuesday is too close to call.  If those who are frustrated with the lies and divisive policies of Governor Walker stay home, then Mr. Walker will remain as Governor.  Wisconsin is tired.  Half are tired of dirty tricks by the GOP and the other half are tired of being accused of dirty tricks.  Divide and conquer has worked to a large degree.

4 June 2012, afternoon update:  The Cap Times has the story on the card that so many received.   The Greater Wisconsin Political Fund is a real, left-leaning super-pac.  They paid a lot of money to the Government Accountability Board and got the full voting history of the state for 2008 and 2010, information that is public and expensive to pay for.  They did it because, as annoying as many of my friends found this card, studies at Harvard and Yale show that it is effective to shame people into voting.  So amidst the various dirty tricks, this one wasn't.

16 November 2011, Original Pedantic Political Ponderings post.
30 November 2011, FollowUp 1.
4 December 2011, FollowUp 2.
11 December 2011, FollowUp 3.
14 December 2011, FollowUp 4.
15 December 2011, FollowUp 5.
30 December 2011, FollowUp 6.
13 January 2012, FollowUp 7.
17 January 2012, FollowUp 8.
25 January 2012, FollowUp 9.
2 February 2012, FollowUp 10.
9 February 2012, FollowUp 11.
12 February 2012, FollowUp 12.
18 February 2012, FollowUp 13.
22 February 2012, FollowUp 14.
6 March 2012, FollowUp 15.
12 March 2012, FollowUp 16.
16 March 2012, FollowUp 17.
30 March 2012, FollowUp 18.
31 March 2012, FollowUp 19.
3 April 2012, FollowUp 20.
4 April 2012, FollowUp 21.
11 April 2012, FollowUp 22.
14 April 2012, FollowUp 23.
17 April 2012, FollowUp 24.
21 April 2012, FollowUp 25.
29 April 2012, FollowUp 26.
2 May 2012, FollowUp 27.
6 May 2012, FollowUp 28.
10 May 2012, FollowUp 29.
13 May 2012, FollowUp 30.
23 May 2012, FollowUp 31.
24 May 2012, FollowUp 32.
30 May 2012, FollowUp 33.

4 June 2012, FollowUp 35.
5 June 2012, FollowUp 36.

No comments:

Post a Comment

No longer open for freely commenting.