Campaign eroded our democracy

By From page A12 | April 07, 2013

Some people say that once an election is done, it is past, and should be forgotten.

Some others note elections that were stolen but nevertheless not overturned. Such folks would cite the Bush and Gore election of 2000. Those folks believe it should not be forgotten.

There is ambiguity about which of the above-stated sentiments to engage with over the recent Measure I vote — in the public mind. But in my private mind, I feel the politics around Measure I, on the yes side, harmed our democracy. And unless that harm is noted and learned from, our democracy will erode further.

The following counter-democratic points were employed in the yes campaign and deserve to be studied:

* An over-reliance on famous and important people as a substitute for direct thought about the issue at hand;

* The creation of an atmosphere of emergency where there was none together with the idea that a no decision would trigger a disaster; this is known as panicking the people;

* When troubles arose, the explanations would adapt so that yes voters would not be peeled off;

* Large points of the no side were simply ignored. One such idea is that the water project will be growth-inducing. No counter-argument was offered. The voters were thus denied an important learning experience;

* Hidden tactics were used. If they were revealed, the public would have been able to see and discount the manipulation for what it was.

For example, it is clear that the city’s education campaign was no more than a well-financed propaganda campaign; conflict of interest in the city’s campaign was not pointed out. Also, it is clear the yes campaign hired a professional outside campaign management team to deliver success. Many were deceived into making incomplete and poor choices.

Unfortunately, “nothing succeeds like success.” No official effort is being made to improve our democracy.

It looks like the people we need to trust are ourselves and it is up to us to do the work of becoming fully informed in this hostile-to-democracy political environment.

Jim Leonard


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