When I wrote yesterday that things were going negative, I had no idea how negative they were really going in Campaign 2011. Did you know that the web address on Frank Valeriote's election signs leads nowhere? What a jerk! He's clearly unfit to be our MP because he's got I.T. issues. While I agree, it looks bad that a URL on the election signs you're in the process of plastering all over town doesn't work, but you know what does work? Several other websites about Valeriote and his work; his MP's site, his MP Profile, his Facebook page. And do you have any idea how hard it is to locate any of that stuff? I had to find this website called "Google" and type in Frank Valeriote's name and press 'enter'.
But seriously folks, that was the lighter half. The darker half stems from something that I guess was a symptom that I noticed yesterday. The Guelph Mercury reported this morning that there was a rash of sign vandalizing across Guelph on the weekend. More than that, there was someone, or someones, harassing Conservative candidate Marty Burke's family on Sunday morning, ringing the door bell and knocking on the door before 3 am before peeling off in an unseen car when Burke's wife came to investigate. This isn't the first time election harassment has been this bad, and I'm afraid to say that this probably won't be the last.
First, let's get the obvious stuff out of the way. The people doing this stuff are hoodlums at best, criminals at worst. A media release from Burke's office said, "The Marty Burke Campaign condemns these actions, and hopes that the Opposition campaigns will deliver a similar message to their workers." In there is a tacet implication that this is the work of a black ops division of one of the opposing candidates, which is strange because everyone agrees that it was a select few protesters that led the madness at the G20 meeting, and not every surly looking teenage that wonders into a store is looking to shoplift.
Why wouldn't the Opposition campaigns condemn these actions? Didn't they all come together in 2008 for a group condemnation? Is it in anyone's best interest to not come out against this kind of action? Is there a constituency of malcontents and anarchists that is key to election victory that someone is trying to win? Do they expect one of the other candidates to come out and go, "Yeah, some of my boys got wrecked Saturday night and thought it'd be laugh"? Would that actually happen? Isn't everyone that's mature and dedicated enough to be involved with a political campaign, aware that harassing the wife and kids of a candidate for no reason because you can is not the best way to get your point across?
I think the answers are obvious, and anyone that tries to turn these tactics to their own political advantage is cynical and exploitative. Condemn the jerks! Condemn them till the cows come home. But this was not a political operation in any acceptable sense of the term. And though we political humorists joke about negative politics, we all die a little inside when they occur. Noted psychic Edgar Cayce once said that the best prophecies are the ones that don't come true. Well it's more or less true with pundits, the best campaign is the one where there's no stupidity for us to remark upon.