Monday, October 11, 2010

On Second Thought

For starters, I feel that I should apologize. I am, after all, part of the target demographic for negative campaign advertising - the voter who really isn't fired up for either candidate, but might be considered vaguely hostile towards one camp. Since the candidate towards whom I have some hostility does not feel it worth the time to court my vote, the best that he can hope for is that I "stay home" on election day. (Metaphorically speaking, since here in Washington most, of not all, counties now vote entirely by mail.) Hence, the signs.

For some reason, I have only seen these signs in my immediate neighborhood. Although the 1st Congressional District IS pretty large - maybe the bulk of the signs are posted out farther away from Seattle, in Snohomish and Kitsap counties up north. As far as I'm concerned, the message is pretty clear - don't vote for Representative Inslee. Okay. I can live with that. But who should we vote for? Well, there the signs don't help you, as is often the case with negative campaigns. But this goes back to the target demographic - people who aren't fired up about Representative Inslee or the Democrats, but aren't really all that enthusiastic about James Watkins and/or the Republicans either. And that, honestly, would be me.

You know what? Just stay home Election Day.
I never paid much attention to yard signs when I lived in Illinois. Since moving to Washington, I've really only noticed "attack signs" like this directed at Democrats - Patty Murray and Ron Sims being the other targets. But then again, when you live in a Democratic stronghold, one doesn't expect to see the Democrats working to suppress voter turnout.

But even though I understand the political motivation for putting out the signs, I don't like them. I don't know if I've ranted about this on the weblog before, but there's something unbecoming about trying to suppress voter turnout through attempting to stoke voter apathy. The idea behind a representative democracy is to get as many people involved as possible, even if that involvement is only tangential. Undermining voter turnout because a candidate isn't confident that they can motivate enough people to come out and vote for them seems to be needlessly destructive. True - I live in a Democratic stronghold. And true, most Republicans seem to rub me the wrong way - mainly because I'm neither socially conservative or a defense hawk. But still, this Watkins guy has to have something going for him. If "Citizens for Watkins" has the money to put up anti-Inslee signs, they could have better spent it on pro-Watkins signs, that highlighted what their candidate stands for, or wants to do, to go along with their regular signs. (I also find it interesting that the anti-Inslee signs are among the few Republican signs that are red. The actual James Watkins signs are blue.)

But I am now officially irritated, and have decided that I'm going to vote to re-elect Representative Inslee. (At least until Representative Inslee's campaign does something to hack me off.) Yes, I understand that it's pretty flimsy reasoning, and I'm really doing something that I don't like to do - voting against someone, rather than voting for someone. But I regard voter turnout as important, and I actively dislike campaigning styles that are designed to suppress it. Even more so, I suspect, when it's my vote that's targeted for suppression.

1 comment:

Keifus said...

I hear ya. Experiencing similar phenomena in the MA guvner's race, and especially in the New Hampshire stuff that leaks over the border. I'm also getting to the point that I find the media coverage--which is covering the ads when it is not discussing polls or talking about the tea party folks, and has taken over all other news--pretty insufferable too.

(So I'm driving with the tunes cranked up, which isn't so bad.)