Notes from the Campaign

It’s interesting to watch a political campaign from close range, as I’ve been able to do with Rob Miller’s campaign for Davis County Commission. Actually, I can’t honestly say I’ve been watching “close up.” I haven’t been able to be as involved as I would like, because of some personal issues, competing demands, and some communication mix-ups on my part. I feel bad about it, and hopefully over these next two weeks I can do more (I was just released from the Elders Quorum Presidency and made Gospel Doctrine teacher, which will reduce some of the other demands). I don’t think it would be honest to say I’ve been a “campaign manager” or coordinator. But I’ve helped where I can, spending a couple of hours a night several nights over the past week or so calling people, doing a little writing and design, giving feedback, etc. Hopefully its helped out.

In any case, I’ve been able to observe some things which I’ve never seen as a casual observer or outsider. When I think of political campaigns, I usually think of the prominent office races which are followed so closely in the news; president, senate, House of Representatives, Governor, state General Attorney, etc. They have their campaign staffs, TV and radio commercials, billboards, photo ops, soundbites, et al—most importantly, abundant war chests.

The local offices which can make such a difference in our day-to-day lives are very different from this glamorous picture. Rob is really determined to make a solid case to his prospective constituents. He is very personable, and articulate, and has a great deal of leadership experience. Unfortunately, as a Democratic candidate, he is waging a steeply uphill battle in staunchly conservative Davis County. Not only does he face the deeply ingrained distrust of Democrats in the county, but he is working with a local Democratic Party which lacks the organizational strength, funding, and sheer numbers of their Republican counterparts. He has been willing to most of his efforts himself. His opponent seems to have dozens of signs for each of Rob’s—let alone the billboards! Despite this, he has doggedly gone out to make waves, whether it be meeting with city and county leaders, attending any county functions to hand out flyers, or staying up all hours at night to get signs out.

That makes it all the more frustrating when I hear Rob lament the vandalism and theft of his signs. He has been dutiful in getting permission whenever he puts his signs on private property (I know—I’ve been helping get that permission).

I’m not suggesting this is a Republican tactic. While in this instance, Rob’s signs are the ones apparently being deliberately targeted, I’m certain this happens to hundreds of candidates of both parties across the nation. And I’m not talking about the petty and indiscriminant vandalism of ignorant youths. This sort of thing seems to be the malicious efforts of partisans—probably not coordinated or sanctioned by the leadership of either party at any level, but still motivated by partisan or ideological loyalty nonetheless.

I’m extremely disheartened to learn of political vandalism of any candidate. It is extremely disrespectful not only to the individual candidates and the time and money they spend, but to the freedom of expression which is such an integral part of our nation’s values. The efforts of partisan vandals are an insult to the political process in which we have the privilege to participate.

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4 Responses to “Notes from the Campaign”

  1. Thom Says:

    Hmmm. Just musing here. Perhaps this is why, when driving in Acton, MA, the other day, the Kerry Healey supporters I saw standing on the street corner had, like, 5 signs per capita. I can’t figure out what else it was for; “Wow! That Kerry Healey must really be something. She only has 5 supporters here, but they have over twenty signs. I think I’ll vote for her.”

    For better or worse, it looks like Massachusetts is on its way to having its first Democrat governor in 16 years. (Yes, Dukakis was the last Democrat to hold the office. No, I’m not happy that our current governor spends his time at fundraisers cracking jokes at our expense. Yes, he’s a Mormon Republican. No, I’m not going to vote for his Lt. Governor.)

  2. Derek Staffanson Says:

    Unfortunately, that sight isn’t too uncommon here either. I can’t deny that there is plenty of overkill when it comes to signs. They can look very tacky when they end up everywhere–particularly when they stick around until January. But even when they annoy me, I think we should respect the part they play in our political process (a point I know you weren’t contradicting, but one I wanted to belabor). After all, I really can’t think of any more viable means by which the candidate for local offices to get their names out there.

    When you speak of Romney “cracking jokes at our expense,” who are the “our” of whom you speak? Mormons? I haven’t been obsessively Romney-watching like most Mormon bloggers.

  3. jared Says:

    let’s not jump to conclusions about romney, because the boston herald had a pretty nasty smear article on romney and the lds faith, and how the lds faith is ” running” romney campaign. that is to bad about people stealing rob miller’s signs, people should have more tact than that, esp. in ” mormon country”.

  4. Derek Staffanson Says:

    Jared, I’m not sure its accurate to label the Boston Globe (not Boston Herald) article as a “smear campaign.” Would you have called it a smear campaign had the article been about, say, Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign coordinating with the Church of Scientology? Or do you only think it is a smear campaign because it is potentially unflattering towards the Church?

    It seems that the Boston Globe was presenting the evidence they’d seen and drawing a conclusion. They might have drawn the wrong conclusion, but one could say that those who accuse the Globe of a smear campaign are doing the same thing.

    It is also worth noting that Thom, who brought up Romney, is a Mormon living in Massachusetts, and gets local info on Romney which you and I never see, such as Romney cracking jokes at “our” expense (I hope Thom responds to let us know who the us is to whom he is referring). Thom is one of the few people I know who is honestly moderate in his political beliefs, neither essentially conservative nor liberal.

    For myself, I’ve jumped to no conclusions about Romney. I’m not particularly interested in him for a number of reasons, and I’m certainly not drooling over him like so many politically-minded Mormons are. I’m more interested in having a principled president, irrespective of religious persuasion, than in having a Mormon president. But I’ve heard a few hopeful things about him, so I’m not writing him off yet either.

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