Moral clarity

This is a mailer from the John Doolittle campaign, a Republican running in the 4th Congressional District…

Click on it to see it and the other pages full size.
It’s tempting to not respond, to say this kind of thing, like the dirty robocalls the Republicans are using all across the country, are such sleazy insults both to the candidates and to the voters that these tactics deserve no response. A lot of stories on negative tactics have been written in the past few weeks that have made it sound like these levels are being sunk to by both sides in equal proportion, but that simply isn’t true: the right is using slimeball desparation tactics far, far more frequently than the left. To accuse a 26 year Air Force pilot who has flown missions in Vietnam, Grenada, Panama, Lebanon, Libya, various places during the Cold War and Iraq after the first Gulf War, and whose kid is headed over to Iraq for his fourth tour of duty in a month, of Nazi sympathies is so profoundly disgusting that it’s hard to think of what response might do it justice.
Maybe so, but people who disagree with this kind of tactic have gone too long in not answering things like this…

Charlie Brown’s opponent apparently doesn’t understand the first thing about how democracy works. All of our institutions are imperfect. Joining an organization and supporting it’s aims in general does not mean that you’re going to agree with everything it does. How could it? Most Republicans don’t agree with 100% of what their party does, nor do most Democrats. I disagree vigorously with Mr Brown on a number of issues but I walked two precincts for him anyway on Saturday, because that’s how democracy works. The ACLU is an organization that has many times defended speech that I find personally reprehensible, including that of many conservatives. They’ve done so because the right to free speech is one of the things that makes America America.
I’m not sure I could ever bring myself to vote for someone who sent a mailer like that, but I can more easily understand voting for someone even though they’re corrupt. I can even understand voting for someone who is at least going to have to step down and possibly even go to jail, as Rep. Doolittle is likely to do because of his ties to Jack Abramoff.
What I don’t understand is the disconnect on the issues, the fundamental moral disconnect here. If abortion is your issue, Doolittle has voted to block legislation that would’ve stopped forced abortions in the Mariana Islands sweatshops because that’s what his contributors want. If taxes are your issue, Doolittle’s personal corruption alone has squandered millions upon millions of dollars, as has his blind support for staying the course in an occupation that is costing us $100,000 per minute. If immigration is your issue, regardless of whether you favor actually fixing the root causes of the problem or making San Diego look like occupied Berlin, Doolittle and the conservatives have done nothing. Voting for someone who is actively opposing the things that you care about – that doesn’t make sense to me.
It’s going to take a long time and a lot of hard work to change the climate of the political debate in this country to the point where desperate smears like this are rendered ineffective. Voters have a choice tomorrow about where the debate in this country goes next, but how many of them realize this?