Tuesday, June 14, 2005


Tim Botkin Recognizes Republican Strategies

Tim Botkin, columnist for the Kitsap Sun:

Most voters do not respect this [negative] approach, but may not perceive it during the heat of a campaign. But it has happened enough, at local and national levels, that a wonk like me has identified its salient points. Therefore, I hereby publish my Handbook for Spotting the Step-by-Step Destruction of Informed Democracy, the condensed version:

1) The Beginning: A well-intended candidate/official takes a position, call it the Cause.

2) Fault cultivation: Unable to refute its logic, the antagonist breaks out the microscope to find any fault(s) in his opponent's Cause. Faults become the new campaign mantra.

3) Perfect embellishment: Since there is no alternative proposed, the Cause with faults is unassailably compared to "no-fault" or perfection. In that light, only the faults matter.

4) Victim analysis: A search is conducted for any real, or potential, victims of the faulty Cause. Once one potential victim is found, the faults become dangerous.

5) New righteous transformation: The singular victim becomes "everyman." Be afraid, it is now a matter of your "rights", or worse, our "morals."

6) The Word: The attack is dressed up by attaching a phrase from our most fundamental documents — like the U.S. Constitution or the Bible. Never mind if the quote doesn't quite fit.

7) Bring it Home: Now wave the flag and thump the Book. This raises the original dirt above the fray. Words like "freedom, nation, democracy, Christian, right" — in any particular order — roll off the tongue.

8) Humble outrage: When a response is finally made, it is characterized as an attack on the very foundation of our civilization. Antagonists are appalled. And saddened. And ahead.

One of the beauties of this approach is that it also obviates accountability of the antagonist. The issues are lost. Reason is no longer important. We don't question it, we're just glad to be on the right side.

Trouble is, these things have a way of catching up with us. Here at home, we are legitimately concerned about future population growth — but stuck due to the apparent requirement to satisfy a group which seems in the business of never expressing satisfaction.

Tim Botkin served one term as a Kitsap County commissioner and was defeated in a reelection bid - very possibly by a better candidate. And I had the pleasure of meeting him recently. He may not be a great politician, but he writes some sharp articles. And he regularly raises the ire of local Republicans and that's OK by me. In this article he displays solid insight. Without a doubt, the letters to the editor will flow onto the paper's Op-Ed pages for the next several days.

Nice work, Tim.

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