Yes, Virginia, there are real villains in politics. In our
book The Elements of Persuasion we stress not
demonizing an antagonist. In the real world, as opposed to Hollywood, you
should be careful using the V word. But there are times it fits. We are
reaching one of those times.
I’m not talking about nasty attack ads. Those are often in
the eye of the beholder. Your hero is my antagonist. Your scandalous lie is my
biting social commentary. It’s an American tradition that goes back at least to
the mercurial friendship and bitter hurt feelings of Jefferson and Adams. A
little mud slinging keeps our democracy down to earth, and hurray for us for
doing it. Americans are a scrappy bunch. That is one reason we’re such lovable
galoots. But the desire to win can go too far.
If there is one thing all Americans should agree on it is
that every citizen has a right the right, if not the duty, to vote. That is not
a technical right granted by a benevolent State, it is an Inalienable Right
made tangible by the sacrifices of our Founding Fathers and “watered by the
blood of patriots” in every generation since. So organized voter suppression is
And what could be more villainous
than a banker foreclosing on little Nell’s mortgage then twirling his
metaphoric mustache as he has the sheriff tear up her ballot because she
doesn’t live there anymore. According to the website The Michigan Messenger someone connected with
Repubs is trying to do just this in battleground state of Michigan. The Messenger’s post must have touched some nerve because a slander suit has been filed. TPM fact-checked to find out who was paying the attorney fees and got shined on by the shyster involved which is not a good sign.
If this is actually happening, shame on whichever party
Of course there are more
sophisticated technical ways of denying – or enhancing – the vote (and both
parties seem to do it). Check out HBO’s Hacking Democracy – availabe on disk – a
truly scary documentary. Perfect for your pre election Halloween Party.