Saturday, March 12, 2011

Tips and Tricks for Politics

This Sociological Images post causes me to ponder the following important question:

Rabble-rousing among the supporters of an opposing party to split the vote: underhanded trick, or just clever politics?

I think we know the answer to that. Both.

Imagine that I support Political Candidate A. Opposing my candidate are two or more candidates of another party. Let us call them Candidate B and Candidate C, because I am creative like that.

Instead of (or perhaps in addition to) producing literature lauding my own preferred Candidate A, I also produce mailed materials attacking one or more of the candidates in the other party(ies) for not living up to the awe-inspiring moral standards of their supporters. 

Let's say I send out a mailer bashing Candidate B.

Now my own candidate may not live up to those awe-inspiring standards either, so I'm not really hoping to get people to vote for A instead of B, I'm just hoping that enough of them will vote for C instead of B that B and C wind up splitting the awe-inspiring standards voters, and there are enough morally reprehensible lowlives voting for Candidate A that he or she can win.

The Sociological Images post is entitled "Politically Expedient Sexism," and the author concludes,

I gotta say, I thought this was repugnant when I first saw it and assumed the group who put it out might actually believe this kind of crap. But to encourage people to vote based on sexist, homophobic values that you presumably don’t even agree with, simply as a political ploy? That is some nasty, nasty business.

I can see that point. It is kind of low.

There's something not truth-in-advertising-y about it that rubs me the wrong way. It feels like such a con, doesn't it? I would probably react negatively if I found out that a political ad was playing me that way.

If I just say "I think Candidate B is despicable, and you should vote for Candidate A," that's one thing, but if I tell you "I don't think Candidate B is despicable enough for you, and by implication I think Candidate C is a better choice," while secretly hoping to benefit Candidate A by diverting your vote from the more dangerous opponent, that's another.

Still, although it's low and nasty, I think it may also be kind of brilliant. A trick to remember once I go into politics.


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