Another Dead Canary

The bald eagle isn't feeling so good either...

Eric Kleefeld of Talking Points Memo reports that Wisconsin Democrats are now pondering whether they should plant fake Republican candidates in Republican primaries, since the GOP has declared that it intends to plant fake candidates in the Democratic primaries, which could delay the general elections from July to August, and complicate the Democratic primaries while the GOP incumbents run unopposed.

The Democrats are being egged on by a labor-backed progressive group called We Are Wisconsin, which has stated:

Another potential scenario created by the Republican chicanery in the primary that could severely disadvantage Democratic candidates is that Republican incumbents who do not face primary challengers advance automatically to the general election ballot. This creates a scenario where “legitimate” Democratic challengers are exposed to unlimited spending by outside groups and pro-Republican forces, which could cause the “legitimate” Democrats in the race to lose the sham primary. There would be no check on millions of dollars in shady outside money coming in to relentlessly attack “legitimate” Democrats, and full-scale mobilization of Republican resources to turn out their voters in the Democratic primary and to advocate a message such as “if you support Randy Hopper, vote for fake candidate X.”

I think I understand the thinking, if not the writing. The theory is that if the Democrats run  fake Republicans to prevent unopposed candidates in the Republican primaries, it will force GOP voters to worry only about their own primary and foil the attempt to mess with the Democrats.

Hey…I have an idea!

Why don’t we just give up, and ask the British to take us back?

Because this isn’t democracy, and parties that try to confuse voters and foil the will of the majority by tricks, cheating and double-dealing are disgracing the values and the principles our government is supposed to embody. Yet this seems to be becoming politics-as-usual. During the 2008  election, for example, the Democratic Party  used various tactics, some less than savory, to block Ralph Nader from state ballots, fearing a repeat of the 2000 debacle. The practice of planting disruptive “supporters” at candidate rallies hoping to provoke a YouTube-worthy gaffe, once derided as “dirty tricks” when used by Nixon Republicans, is a standard weapon in both parties’ arsenal. America’s sacred right of self-determination is being cynically warped by tricks lies and masquerades, and when one party dives into the mud, the response of the other is increasingly likely to be, “Why didn’t we think of that?”

I don’t have a solution for the spread of this kind of cheating, if both parties want to win this way and their supporters are willing to let them. And I’m sure they are: I’ve been reading defenders of Anthony Weiner proudly proclaim that they would vote for lying Democrats over honest Republicans, just as the supporters of assorted Republican liars—Senator Paul Kirk comes to mind—clearly feel the same way. If party members think it makes sense to elect liars, it isn’t a huge step for them to think it’s defensible to cheat to elect those liars, especially if the liars’ opponents will be cheating too.

This is another one of those stories, and there have been too many of them recently, that shows how quickly all the canaries are dying in the American mine of cultural decency and ethics, which is slowly being poisoned by greed, apathy, stupidity and cynicism. By all means, Wisconsin, see which party can confuse voters more with their fake candidates. That’s what our soldiers have died for; that’s what Tom and John and Ben and George risked everything for; that’s the kind of thinking that has made America great.

Sure it is.

[Thanks, sort of, to Rick Jones for bring this to my attention.]

15 Comments

Filed under Government & Politics, U.S. Society

15 responses to “Another Dead Canary

  1. The goods news is that the Dems have apparently decided not to run fake Republican candidates… they’ll run fake Democrats, instead (thereby ensuring that all the recall elections will be at the same time). Don’t ask me to explain the pragmatic argument, but the decision not to run fake Republicans seems to have been made on ethical grounds (although why it took so long is a little problematic).

    For more on the Dems’ decsion, go here. For the Republican’s rationale (“It will give us longer to campaign” and “they did it first”), go here and here.

    • What is problematical is that they considered it at all. It’s like Clinton asking a pollster whether he should tell the truth. Still, this restores about 6% of my faith in mankind, so once again I’ll put off platypus-dom and cancel that species re-alignment surgery.

      • Chase Martinez

        Don’t worry! I’m sure there’s another labor atrocity in China or more Weiner pics just around the corner! The week is young!

        (You can still type with the barbs on the back of your legs once you’re a platypus.)

  2. Oh, and by the way, do you have any evidence that the Democrats encouraged Jack Davis to run in the NY 26th, or did they simply (perhaps) benefit from that candidacy (the way Bill Clinton may have benefitted from Ross Perot or George W. Bush from Ralph Nader)? Everything I’ve read suggests he’s one of those perennial candidates who finds his way onto the ballot however he can (Nader, Bob Barr…). I don’t think it’s at all certain that Davis voters would have chosen Corwin over Hochul by 11.5 points (what she would have needed to win) in a two-way race, and even if they did, the “our candidate would have won if we hadn’t lost the uninformed idiot vote” mantra falls rather short of a rallying cry. After all, there was a 55 point swing from Chris Lee’s re-election last November to Hochul’s win in the special election less than 7 months later. A single-digit spoiler doesn’t account for that.

    • Nader’s not a fair comparison, right? There was nothing deceptive in his candidacy. A lifetime Democrat running under the “Tea Party” label is clearly fraudulent, and intended to be. I’m sure he did it on his own, and that the Democrats had plausible reliability, and were also pleased as punch and did nothing to discourage him. His 9% made the difference in the election, though I would guess that some of his votes came from previous fans.

      I’ll plead to over-stating the Democrat’s proven culpability. Still, when an established Democrat plays a dirty trick that helps his party win, it’s only a slight exaggeration to say “the Democrats used a fake candidate,”

      • Ted

        Your description of Jack Davis is very inaccurate. He’s not a “lifelong Democrat”; in fact, he was a lifelong Republican who only switched to the Democratic Party in 2003 because he was dissatisfied with Republican free trade policies. He lived in a solidly Republican district in which the Democrats had no interest in wasting money funding a candidate, and he told them (in essence), “Let me have the nomination, and I’ll spend my own money funding the campaign. At the very least I’ll make the Republican nominee fight for it, and while you might not like me much in Congress, you’ll like me better than the party-line Republican on the R line.” In 2008, when Democrats decided they had a chance at the seat after all, he lost the primary by a significant margin, at which point he switched back to the Republican party and supported the Republican candidate. In 2011, before running on the Tea Party line, he ran in the Republican primary, not the Democratic one.

        What complicates things a bit is that his big issue is opposition to free trade, and since the mid-90s both the Democrats and the Republicans have been staunch supporters of free trade. However, when he talks about his other positions, which is rarely, they match Republican (and Tea Party) positions much more closely than they match Democratic positions: he’s strongly pro-gun and anti-“big government,” opposing the stimulus and the health care bill.

        Before making such harsh accusations, I suggest you do more research, and not categorize someone who was a Republican from the 1950s-2003 and from 2008 until now as a “lifelong Democrat.”

        • I agree…that was a mistake, and I took it out. The Democrats (elsewhere) ran at least one fake tea party candidate in 2008, but I shouldn’t have let this get my guard down. Thanks.

      • Chase Martinez

        Davis had flip-flopped between the parties for some time before settling on the Tea Party. I don’t think either wants him.

      • Laura

        I think you’ve been misled – Davis was not a “lifetime Democrat”, he was a Republican until 2003, when he switched parties and started standing as a (conservative) Democrat. In 2008 he convincingly lost the primary, and switched his affiliation back to Republican, and threw his support behind Chris Lee [1]. After Lee’s resignation, Davis first sought the Republican nomination, and when that effort failed, courted the Dems and any other party that would give him the nod [2]. Ultimately, a local Tea Party grouping that was unhappy with the Republican establishment, and with Corwin, gave him its imprimatur [3].
        To my eye, this was probably not a dirty trick, however convenient for the Democrats. And, as you’d expect of a serial party-switcher, Davis actually drew votes from both Corwin and Hochul. Not equally – Nate Silver cites polls showing a 2:1 ratio [4] – but he very likely took enough would-have-been-Dem votes that taking him out of the election wouldn’t have flipped the result.

        (apologies for the footnotes – not sure how your comments system handles links)

        [1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jack_Davis_(industrialist)
        [2] http://batavia.ynn.com/content/politics/534385/jack-davis-looking-for-a-party-to-back-him-in-ny-s-26th-district/
        [3] http://dailycaller.com/2011/05/17/how-alleged-tea-party-fraud-jack-davis-came-to-run-as-the-tea-party-candidate-in-nys-26th-district-special-election/2/
        [4] http://fivethirtyeight.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/05/25/six-months-after-midterm-disaster-hopeful-signs-for-democrats/

  3. One more follow-up. These shenanigans are currently estimated to cost over $400K, according to an article in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. That’s if you look only at the Democratic primaries, with fake candidates from both sides. Blame that on the GOP. The entire recall process, of course, is even more costly. Blame that on the Dems.

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