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.