The unwanted magazine subscriptions are piling up at our house this election season. There’s a big stack of magazines (and the bills that go with them) sitting on my desk that my wife and I will have to sort through and methodically cancel when we have time. (You call a toll-free number and wait forever on hold to speak with a representative). For now, we can’t do that, because we’re too busy with work deadlines and our son’s last two weeks of school before summer break.
It is anonymous political bullying of our family — signing me up for subscriptions to Seventeen and Men’s Fitness — because of my blog. (I have never run for political office, mind you). I have been bullied and ridiculed on the hard-right political blogs — “Rebane’s Ruminations” and Juvinall’s “Sierra Dragon’s Breathe (sic),” among them — by anonymous posters. It includes comments joking about my personal appearance, name-calling, ridiculing my work and so on. The posts aren’t monitored.
I guess they are bullying me in hopes that I’ll stop writing about our dysfunctional local politics and their role in sustaining it. A novelist such as Tom Wolfe would have a field day with our local politics. You can’t make this stuff up.
Political bullying has become a way of life in our western county — largely from the hard right and “good old boys” — and it is quietly tolerated by people who should know better. This is a regular theme on this blog. It is an ugly side of our community and a real eye opener for some newcomers.
This year’s District 3 race, where Dan Miller is trying to unseat Terry Lamphier, has been fraught with political bullying. Nowhere was this more apparent than the “It’s Miller Time” campaign signs hanging over the “nonpartisan” Grass Valley Chamber of Commerce building. It upset a lot of “nonpartisan” people who do business there and have volunteered there.
It also didn’t go unnoticed that one of Miller’s best friends since high school was appointed to be the Chamber CEO. His wife, the Chamber’s co-CEO, contributed to Miller’s campaign, and the Chamber hired Miller’s campaign manager during the election season. It’s a tight-knit group, to be sure.
“Sleazy” political ad
Now The Union decided to run an ad in its newspaper attacking Lamphier that an editorial board member called “the sleaziest ad I’ve seen in ages.” Yet The Union still ran the ad — though it didn’t have to.
Today it wrote a news story about the ad, which was paid for by the Nevada County Contractors Association PAC. Miller received money from the Contractors PAC and personally knows all the players, but he claims: “It’s not my ad, so I can’t comment.”
In reality, Miller’s campaign also could have stopped the ad if he wanted to — but it didn’t. This is similar to the response to the “It’s Miller Time” campaign signs hanging over the Chamber office. The campaign just chose to look the other way.
The political ad takes mostly off-hand phrases out of context, such as “What? You lost me,” trying to make incumbent Lamphier look stupid.
As a supervisor, Lamphier has been a good listener, carefully weighed the issues and not lived up to his stereotype as a “no growther.” In fact, he voted for the Rincon del Rio senior housing project. He is respectful of people, even ones that aren’t like-minded. Is he perfect? No, but he has shown real integrity — often in short supply around here.
As it turns out, some of the the same people who support bashing Lamphier in this ad and using other bullying tactics have personal contempt for him. One striking example: A recent “Other Voices” by Patti Ingram where she insults Lamphier’s commentary on economic development, calling it a “personal puff piece,” and uses high-pitched political rhetoric such as “reprehensible” to describe his views.
It is personal for Patti because her husband, John Spencer, lost to Lamphier in the District 3 supervisor race last time.
It is personal for some of the other people who are supporting Miller as well. Some longtimers point to this year’s District 3 supervisor race as the “revenge” campaign by staunch conservatives who lost out to progressives over the years. They cite Fran Freedle losing to Bruce Conklin when she ran for re-election, for example.
The nasty campaigning also came to my neighborhood two years ago, when the hard right supported Sue McGuire against Nate Beason in District 1. Signs popped up reading “So Nate, aren’t 2 terms enough???”
The nasty campaigning also surfaced in the clerk-recorder’s race, when Barry Pruett challenged Greg Diaz.
Once again I’m reminded of the saying, “The politics are so nasty because the stakes are so small.”