Thursday, November 3, 2016

Bad Followers

There are many good reasons to vote for a particular candidate. There are many fewer good reasons to vote against a candidate. But the fact that some number of supporters of a given candidate may have engaged in some act of criminal behavior strikes me as falling into neither category.

Let's say that it could be proven that a supporter of Hillary Clinton was behind the arson and graffiti attack on the Republican campaign office in Hillsborough, North Carolina. This fact, in and of itself, would change nothing about Mrs. Clinton's credentials and/or fitness to be President of the United States of America. Likewise, if it could be proven that a supporter of Donald Trump was behind the arson and graffiti attack on the Hopewell Missionary Baptist Church in Greenville, Mississippi, that fact, in and of itself, would not make Donald Trump any better or worse a candidate for the presidency.

To me, these ideas are fairly clear-cut. After all, each candidate is likely to draw some 30+ million votes come election day. That's simply too large a group of people for none of them to have serious chips on their shoulders, mental health issues and/or some really bad ideas about what constitutes political engagement. Even if only one in one-hundred of the people in each camp are really pumped up about their chosen candidate, we'd still be talking about hundreds of thousands of people. It's unrealistic to presume that groups of that size would be completely free of anyone who thinks that spraypaint and accelerant might be a good way to make a political point.

Not to say that this is the sort of behavior that we should come to expect every campaign season. Just that looking to lay it at the feet of a candidate is a waste of time. And the implicit logic that says that a candidate who attracts "crazies" must be the problem themselves is simply broken. Even if candidates were in the business of trying to make people not like them, they can't be guaranteed of that outcome. Sometimes, you just can't get rid of a mad bomber. (This is where I note that of all of the reasons why I'm not a supporter of Donald Trump, the fact that he's earned the support of White Supremacists isn't among them. My disagreement with the policy positions that drew them to him was in place long before their endorsements surfaced.)

I don't see presidential campaigns as battles in a great war between good and evil. They're simply political squabbles between political parties. And any yahoo can vote for a political party, whether the party wants them to or not.

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