Democrats, Republicans must condemn deceptive mailers
“Is there no honor among men” is a phrase I repeated often in my 11 years of elected office. Many times I watched otherwise good people justify doing dishonest things in the name of winning. Some people claim it is just “politics,” but I believe it is this dismissive attitude that has allowed our political culture to evolve into nothing short of cable TVs cage fighting where anything goes and the bloodier the better. Deceptive ads against candidates are everywhere, in our mail boxes, on our television, in our emails and literally on our doorsteps.
Ten years ago, Lincoln County experienced the nasty taste of negative campaigning when in a closely-contested race where Chris Hall, Democrat, had his national origin questioned just before the election. It can be argued the backlash cost Les Fossel the election and tipped the Maine Senate to the Democrats.
Although, I felt terrible for Les Fossel losing, I felt equally sorry for Sen. Chris Hall. Since when has running for office made you fair game for every cheap shot and personal attack some no name staffer in a back campaign office can conjure up?
After the unfair Sen. Hall attack, I began reaching out to Democrats and Republicans seeking a seat in Lincoln County. Each year, I gathered the Republicans seeking office and laid down the law, “No negative attacks, period!” They agreed and there were none. I then reached out to my own Democrat opponents and stated, “There would no negative attacks and furthermore, I let them know I called those in charge of the Republican Party and made it clear to them to keep it clean.
During this election cycle, several attack mailers have been sent on Lisa Millers behalf and another attacking Rep. Les Fossel, in support of Sen. Chris Johnson. Mailers that compare candidates positions on issues or previous votes cast are fair game and legitimate, but these are misrepresentations of the facts and distortions at best.
The mailers paint their two opponents as intentionally destroying the middle class and cite massive tax cuts for the rich while cutting pensions and healthcare benefits for seniors. The people behind the mailers attack and spin the facts to blacken the records of Fossel and Sanderson, yet they fail to mention nearly all Democrats in the Legislature voted for the Legislation in question.
I am concerned what we are seeing a month out of the election is just the beginning. Are we to expect the same partisan division and bickering of Washington politics to replace our small town relatively cordial elections? It appears so.
It is not to say deceptive mailers won’t come from Republicans, but right now they are coming from Democrats. I say, stop it. Some candidates will argue they knew nothing of the mailers, I say that is no excuse. Every candidate seeking office knows who is running campaigns. All that is needed to stop it is a phone call from the candidate to leadership and there will be no attacks.
What does it say about a candidate that turns their back and allows the destruction of another’s character simply to win a race? We expect our soldiers to fight and die with honor. We expect judges to serve with the highest degree of integrity and we entrust them with our lives. Why shouldn’t we expect the same degree of integrity from those that make our laws? I call on all candidates in Lincoln County to condemn the deceptive campaigning. I also ask the many Democrats, Republicans, Greens, and un-enrolled that expressed to me over the years their frustration with our political system to join me in demanding our candidates carry themselves with the integrity and condemn the deceptive attacks. I know of no candidate from any party that has served with the intention to destroy or harm the middle class or the people who elected them. Candidates have children, husbands, moms and dads; they and their families should not endure character destruction while sincerely serving their communities. Again, “is there no honor among men?”
David Trahan is from Waldoboro and is a former state senator.