I know, I know… it’s a headline that could mean anything. But I’m not talking about policy, I’m talking politics. This is a message to #teamMatt and #teamSue, and it’s aimed at all my fellow political animals who live in (or drift in and out of) that weird interstate-corridor-defined bubble where politics morphs into metapolitics.
The message: we’re all friends here. So chill out. Right now.
Look, we all live in a political pressure cooker these days. I could recount the reasons, but why? We all know them. But the underlying reasons for all the sound and fury which is now a mere election away from signifying way more than nothing are twofold.
One; we’ve allowed the political to become indistinguishable from the personal (a trait that used to define the political fringe).
Two; Civility and personal honor have fallen out of style.
Our recent trials are not from bigotry and rage. Angry bigots have always been there and always will be. What’s changed is that we’re now in an environment that allows bigotry to come out of the shadows and have its way with society. And then that Tasmanian Devil style of politicking infects everyone, even the non-bigots. Before long we’re all thrashing around into each other, raising bruises, breaking bones and drawing blood (at least rhetorically… hopefully not more than that).
Although not immune from it in Vermont (just look at some of the crazier Hillary-bashing under way on Facebook), our statewide races have been largely a refuge of sanity. One I, for one, have been proud of.
But cracks are showing. The kind of cracks that are, potentially, the tip of an iceberg. Cracks in the primary contest for Governor.
Folks – don’t. Just. Don’t.
I understand the passions of an election campaign all too well. I also, of all people in this state, understand that there are times when you need to throw elbows. I’ve thrown a LOT of elbows in my time.
But this is not the time. Sue Minter and Matt Dunne (Peter Galbraith’s campaign seems to exist in a slightly different dimension, for good or ill – or both) are both well known in the metapolitics bubble. Share friends. Hell, I’m sure they know each other. And while passion is good (and yes, that passion will inevitable turn to frustration of the why-won’t-the-other-candidate-get-out-of-the-way-for-MY-candidate type… comes with the territory), vitriol is NOT good. Personal attacks are NOT good. And in the waning weeks before the primary, I’ve seen that kind of vitriol that has infected (even defined) national politics creep into message boards and Facebook posts.
For those of you who feel compelled to give into those petty impulses we all feel, know that it won’t be the candidate you oppose pissing into our collective pool – it will be you. And it will (unfairly, but inevitably) reflect back on your candidate. Then comes the cycle of attack/counterattack… and well, we all know the rest.
Remember; the political is not personal. Remember; there is a time for honor and civility every bit as much as there is a time for elbow-throwing and rage. It takes a brain, and a modicum of self-control, to see the difference between those different times and to comport ourselves accordingly.
Let’s show the rest of the country that Vermont is a community that hasn’t forgotten that.