Guilt by association.
It’s a wonderful lazy way to shirk any personal due diligence during the current election cycle.
If a candidate for a state office supports Hillary Clinton — no matter how lukewarm the support —you vote against them even if they are the Mother Teresa of politics because you can’t stand the Democrat standard bearer’s politics.
If a down ticket candidate won’t openly denounce Donald Trump — no matter how much distance they place between themselves and the Republican nominee — you vote against them no matter how effective they’ve been at serving constituents.
It is the scenario that is now being put into play by party hacks of the Republicans and Democrats whose national leadership structures in terms of what they deliver in reality back in D.C. are essentially echoes of each other. It is taking place right here in the Central Valley as political operatives smell blood in the water.
A lot of it assumes someone who supports Clinton or Trump are lockstep in every view they hold and with every word they utter. They are reasons why people support candidates— especially at the more abstract level of national politics — that have nothing to do with the candidates’ backroom dealings, indiscretions, rantings, or calculated manipulations. The world is much more pragmatic the more local you get. You know what the people are doing that get elected because you know whether your toilet flushes, if water flows from a faucet, if garbage is picked up, if police and fire respond in an emergency, if streets have potholes, and if parks are maintained.
Examples of trying to tar people by their political affiliation or perceived position on issues that have nothing to do with their record or the office they are seeking or already occupy have surfaced over the years in Manteca City Council politics.
One was an election a dozen years ago when those trying to unseat incumbents distributed flyers one Sunday morning on the windshields of cars in a number of church parking lots contending one particular individual was pro-abortion and supported Planned Parenthood. Forget the fact the City Council has absolutely no power to legislate anything in regards to abortion and that it couldn’t even legally mess with zoning to prevent a Planned Parenthood office from opening. There was also the little detail that the target of the flyers wasn’t pro-abortion and had been put up for adoption at birth.
Things got even uglier in a subsequent election. A whispering campaign was started that one candidate was gay. It was soon countered by another behind-the-back attack that another candidate was either gay or bisexual. Again, one’s sexual orientation has nothing to do with your qualification to hold public office.
As for those that feel compelled to being horsewhipped into following the party line, I’ll never forget an exchange I had with the late Don Stewart. Don was as good as a man you can get. He was a hard worker, looked out for his union members, served his country, was a solid family man, and would help the community at the drop of a hat.
He stopped me one day before a Manteca Rotary meeting and asked me out of the blue if — as a Republican — I voted a straight ticket. I said it had happened only once and that most of the time it was a mixture and even a few times more Democrats than Republicans. I added that I voted for the individual based on their record and actions.
“That’s the problem with you Republicans,” Don said. “You never vote a straight ticket.”
Without missing a beat I replied, “So if Jesus Christ were a Republican and Adolf Hitler was a Democrat, you’d vote for Adolph Hitler?”
“You’re damned right,” Don fired back.
Don had his reasons for offering his complete blind allegiance to his party.
I respect that. What I don’t respect are party hacks trying to stampede people into guilt by association. It is no different than those people who argue that all police are rotten to the core because of the criminal reaction of an extreme few, that all Muslims are terrorists based on a handful of fanatics, or that all Catholics and Protestants kill in the name of religion based on a century of such behavior in Northern Ireland.
Jeff Denham, we are told, is essentially Trump. His record certainly doesn’t reflect that. As self-proclaimed bastions of liberal policies and defenders of Democratic Party platforms have astutely pointed out, the congressman’s approach to immigration is arguably the best starting place for immigration reform. There’s little doubt he’s the Northern San Joaquin Valley’s best defense to protect jobs, cities, farming and the overall environment in the 209 from federal water policies running amok to cater exclusively to fish.
It’s funny. A lot of self-righteous people argue that Trump is just playing on people’s fears. Then they turn around and do the same thing when it comes to down ticket races where in the past they even admit they had no problem with the people they are now targeting with the broad brush that if you don’t denounce Trump means you are Trump.
Two wrongs don’t make a right unless, of course, you are a self-righteous party mouthpiece or party hack.