The runoff is over and I picked some winners for a change. During the campaign some of the races got a little nasty. Some folks even called it dirty politics and mudslinging. One definition of dirty politics is unethical and illegal methods to gain political advantage. Mudslinging can be defined as the use of insults and accusations, especially unjust ones, with the aim of damaging the reputation of an opponent.
What I see in the aforementioned definitions are adjectives that refer to using fiction to attack one's opponent. Facts are facts and fiction is fiction. In the Dewhurst Patrick race for Lieutenant Governor some accusations of mudslinging or dirty politics were made after the release of Patrick's medical records indicating he had suffered from depression some 30 years ago.
While it can be argued that something 30 years ago shouldn’t make a difference, and it didn’t in this race, facts are still facts. There were some other issues brought up by both sides that could be considered mudslinging or dirty politics. The real issue in my thinking is what is the truth the whole truth and nothing but the truth. Sometimes politicians can spin the truth into something unrecognizable from the reality it truly is.
I personally believe as voters we need to learn all that we can about the candidates in any race. However, what do we really need to know about the candidates is how they will do their job. How they have performed in office in the past, if they are incumbents, or how they will perform in the future if a newcomer. I am not sure how many times a candidate got sent to the principal's office in high school is necessarily and indicator of how they will perform in office.
Some individuals might call the use of a candidate's record dirty politics if the information casts the candidate in a negative light. A candidate's achievements in office are what they run on, so if there were some "burps" during their term in office shouldn’t those be fair game as well? Perhaps there is an issue that was truly a volatile split decision. Is it dirty politics if an opponent uses the other's real truthful stance on that volatile issue to campaign on?
Having been involved in political races since 1986 I can tell you that there are many out there that will say anything to get their candidate elected. I say their candidate because while I have run in several races there were very few if any times my opponent actually slung the mud. However, there were supporters that said lots of things that were outright lies. Things like I beat my wife, was a drug dealer, had been arrested twice for dumping garbage on the road, and had at least one DWI were rampant during several races.
I guess the bottom line is that I believe that the fact that I got expelled from school during my junior year in high school for three days for insubordination could well be a campaign issue. However, the wife beating, garbage dumping and DWI should not since they are all fiction. That is why we should all do our best to learn as much as we can about every candidate and weed out the fiction and make our decision on the facts. We as voters should follow Sergeant Friday's advice, "Just the facts ma'am, just the facts."