November 11, 2008

Shame on GOP leadership

It’s an unfortunate truth that when we human beings get together in groups, we do silly things that we would not do individually.

Take, for example, some of the honest and well-meaning politicians who serve as leaders of the Republican party in South Dakota. Individually, they may exhibit the thoughtfulness and common sense that we South Dakotans prize in government leaders, whatever their stripe.

But in the fever pitch of campaigning, politicians sometimes go a little nuts. In the 2008 South Dakota State Senate District 31 campaign, state Republican leaders went a lot nuts.

When businesswoman Nyla Griffith of Deadwood, a Democrat, decided to run for the Senate seat being vacated by Republican Jerry Apa, she launched a straightforward campaign in support of education and open government. She beat a path to thousands of doorsteps in Lawrence County, listening to voter concerns and seeking their support. She got lots of it – much more than likely anticipated by opposition GOP candidate Tom Nelson and local/state Republican leaders.

The fear of losing a seat in the Legislature so frightened these folks that they did collectively what a single one of them would probably be averse to doing. They used an 11th hour “Voter Alert” postcard to attack Griffith with information that they knew was not true, and they timed their mailing so she’d have no opportunity to respond before voters went to the polls. They accused her of supporting gun control and the legalization of marijuana – extracting bits and pieces of information that was posted on the non-partisan website Project Vote Smart. Then they cobbled together their venomous and untrue accusations and deposited them in voters mailboxes hours before the election.

Project Vote Smart wasn’t too happy with South Dakota Republican Party over this incident. In a public statement, they rebuked GOP leaders for attacking Nyla Griffith with “information they know to be false.” Read the entire Project Vote Smart Public Statement.

To my knowledge, there’s been no apology for this dastardly deed, and I won’t hold my breath waiting to see one. Hopefully, the few Republican leaders who may have had a hand in this sorry episode will step forward with a bit of contrition and pledge to clean up their act.

This was an unseemly way to try to win votes. Both Republicans and Democrats are not happy over this incident – and persons with an ounce of ethics and common sense understand why. Spearfish writer Lorraine Collins, a Republican, is among the displeased. She shared her thoughts in a Black Hills Pioneer opinion piece this week (11/12/08).

And you can add this Independent blogger to the list of the disenchanted.

1 comment:

Linda Meyer said...

This news is stunningly disappointing.

Nyla Griffith offered good reason to vote for her. She did her homework on the topics of education, renewable energy, and issues important to our state. She showed every indication she would champion our best interests for the public good.

Apparently, “public good” doesn’t account for much among the zealous politicians in the state GOP.

I had no idea we had been cheated out of Nyla’s leadership through GOP deceit, dishonesty & deception. (Yes, I know one word would suffice to indicate the practice of misleading the voter by lying.)

This is truly bad news.