Andrew Breitbart and Fox News have learned their tricks from the grand pooh-bah of negative campaigning: Karl Rove. The recent forced resignation of Shirley Sherrod due to a perverted editing job by Andrew Breitbart framing her as a racist is very Rovian—and very familiar to me. As of late, I have been subjected to an equally perverted attempt to frame me in a mudslinging smear attack.
You see, I am running for State Representative in Missouri’s 79th District as a progressive Democrat. (http://www.ByronDeLear.org)
Not so usual, after all, I am the “Progressive Examiner”, right?
Job creation, improving our schools and providing economic security for seniors have been my focus in this race. I have been working tirelessly to help improve the economic conditions here in St. Louis County and Missouri through promoting the job-creating clean energy industry. Recently, I attended my first bill signing ceremony with Gov. Jay Nixon after helping to get PACE clean energy jobs legislation passed here in Missouri.
Throughout my campaign for State Representative, I’ve been walkin’—knockin’—and talkin’ to voters—over 3500 of them. They are as concerned as I am about the economic challenges we as a national family currently face. Many Missourians are very excited about the potential of clean energy to help revitalize our economy and it’s been my pleasure to share with them new ideas and innovative solutions to get our economy back on track.
What makes my case unique, though, is the smear attack comes from a fellow Democrat. A couple of weeks ago, my opponent in the Democratic Primary, Mary Nichols started to tell Democratic voters that I was a “Rush Limbaugh Republican”. She spent thousands of dollars sending out negative mailers about me saying the same, that I was a “self-described Rush Limbaugh Republican” and, among other things, attacking the non-profit clean energy trade association I co-founded over a year ago, the Missouri Association of Accredited Energy Professionals (MAAEP). Voters started calling me registering their shock and dismay at the Nichols’ campaign’s mudslinging.
Today, the local active Democratic blogger community in St. Louis started to pick up on Nichols’ political vandalism:
Mary Nichols, a Democrat running against Byron DeLear for state rep in the 79th, has lost any shred of respect I might have had for her. Get a load of part of the mailer she just sent out. Under the headline “AN ELEPHANT NEVER FORGETS”, she claims that DeLear “forgot” to mention that he used to be a Rush Limbaugh Republican. (That’s elephant hide you’re seeing underneath the text.) Remember that this mailer is going out to Democrats before the primary in a district that will almost surely go Democratic in the fall… …when I wrote about that race less than two weeks ago, I gave Nichols every benefit of the doubt, although I thought she had little to offer. Now, I’ll be blunt. She has no agenda to speak of other than trashing a fellow Democrat who has proven that he wants to help the people of this state.
It doesn’t feel good to be lied about. Many have said my opponent is acting desperate and that’s a good sign.
What bothers me the most, is that these smears and mudslinging are being directed right into the ears of voters—attempting to deceive them while they are gathering information and trying to find the truth. The typical smear attack plays upon emotion and fear and acts as an infection compromising the body politic. The only antidote—the only remedy—is to virally call out and stigmatize the unjust attack; exposing the corrupt motive and make it backfire on the perpetrator.
In a Huffington Post article on the Breitbart-Sherrod story by Scott Harshbarger and Amy Crafts, “It’s Time to Inoculate Ourselves Against Slander and Falsehoods in the Media” they conclude:
The Shirley Sherrod incident that has played out in prime time this week has had all of the same elements and ingredients. The same conservative blogger — Breitbart; the same network — Fox News; the same kind of edited video — again involving race. This apparently proved that the Department of Agriculture was engaged in illegal, fraudulent activities that were known and supported by NAACP and democratic and progressive leaders, including the Obama administration. This time, though, it backfired — because the “victim” struck back immediately with the full facts, and the mainstream media gave equal time to her side of the story.
Sadly, voters get turned off by the sordid politics-as-usual, smear attacks and negative campaigning. This is a tragedy for American democracy, and people of conscience need to stand up to unethical and repugnant behavior on the part of self-serving career politicians. The Democratic Party—especially—should rid itself of practitioners of Karl Rove or Breitbart-style campaign attacks. If we don’t, we will just circle and spiral downward along with the trash talkers.
Folks, it’s not too comfortable to report on this, but I’m just taking my own advice and shining a light on an injustice.
Now, do your part.