Thursday, August 12, 2004

Smear Tactics Work

One of the lessons I'm learning, from doing volunteer voter registration and outreach in swing states, is Bush's smear campaign is effective. As much as I admire Kerry's call to keep his supporters on the high road, there is little doubt that the negative ads work.

I was doing some 'phone-banking' yesterday. A group of us got together at a Berkeley home, with our cell phones, to call undecided voters in Cincinnati, OH. We had a script to follow, where we basically tried to cull potential supporters from the chaff. If we found an undecided voter, we were supposed to ask them what issues they had, what aspects of the two major candidates' (and Nader too, if they wanted to discuss him) policies and campaign agendas were influencing their decision.

More often than not, in fact almost all of the undecideds, would mention Kerry as a 'flip-flopper,' or his 'personal wealth.' The later is another republican talking point - there's no way he could ever relate to the needs of the middle class. Huh? Pot calling the kettle black?

It did not register that Bush or Cheney have never known anything less than upper class lifestyles. It mattered not at all that their tax cuts are skewed disproportionately towards the top 1%, 1 Mill plus yearly income, elite. And I seriously doubt anyone in Ohio ever even knew anything about Kerry's voting record prior to the republican flip-flop spin. It is only a matter of time, I fear, before people will begin to believe the Swiftboat Vet lies.

Kerry's troops haven't been as effective at painting Bush for what he is. A flip-flopper par excellence; entirely disinterested in middle class needs and far more in favor of big business interests. It's all been said before, but not with the nastiness that the other side has perfected. Where the Swiftboat Vets get coverage with their nonsense, Bush's lack of any proof of what he was doing, when he should have been serving his time in the air reserve after we the taxpayers spent $250K to train him as a pilot, isn't news anymore. It goes on and on (Theresa's 'shove off' versus Cheney's 'fuck you,' is yet another example).

The dichotomy steels my resolve to continue doing what I can, but it does make me wonder whether taking the gloves off would make this a fairer fight. Given that several swing states are going full electric balloting, if this election is close and it appears that the vote count isn't unimpeachable, we may be in for a long, nasty, winter. I almost think I'd rather see a nasty pre-election season and get it out of everyone's system.

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