Right wing morality and the Adrian Dix campaign
For many years, I've believed that extreme right wingers win a disproportionate number of elections because they play dirtier.
The long list of examples includes the Watergate break-in, the disgraceful advertising assaults on Michael Ignatieff and Stéphane Dion, Conservative robocalls sending voters to the wrong polling stations, and bogus claims that Barack Obama was born outside of the United States.
Conservatives don't have a monopoly on dirty tricks. Democratic Party presidential candidate Lyndon Baines Johnson won his landslide in 1964 with a famous "daisy" attack ad suggesting that his Republican opponent, Barry Goldwater, would detonate a nuclear weapon.
But for the most part, it's the reactionaries who are the most vicious—with the Republicans' 1988 Willie Horton ad serving as a case study in twisting the facts to whip up the public against a politician.
With less than two weeks to go in the provincial election campaign, I'm expecting the B.C. Liberals to follow in this tradition.
We already saw them buy the front page of a commuter paper with a misleading ad suggesting that Christy Clark won the televised leaders debate.
I can only imagine how many times we'll see her on the cover of Vancouver commuter papers next week, given how much money the B.C. Liberals have raised over the years.
In England, there's a controversy over Conservative dirty tricks involving an election pamphlet. A fake leaflet was printed featuring the opponents apologizing for their mistakes.
This is the type of thing that happens when there's a lack of morality at the top—and campaign workers are left to believe that the ends justify the means.
In our province, expect the attack ads against NDP Leader Adrian Dix to intensify as B.C. Liberals do whatever they can to retain their grip on power. In their fact-free campaign—as Dix so eloquently put it—anything is possible.
The NDP could have fired back in its advertisements. It could have bombarded the airwaves with messages about the B.C. Rail sell-off and the government's decision to pay $6 million to cover the legal bills of two corrupt B.C. Liberal political aides.
A recent Angus Reid poll showed that 67 percent of British Columbians feel that is an issue that matters to them. That's higher than the 66 percent of respondents who felt that the implementation of the harmonized sales tax mattered.
So those types of attack ads would have probably resonated and likely suppressed the B.C. Liberal vote.
But rather than do that, Dix has run a positive campaign, appealing to the electorate's better instincts.
In some respects, this election is coming down to a referendum for voters on morality.
Do they want to reelect the B.C. Liberals, who've steadfastly refused to enact provincial-campaign finance reforms?
If the B.C. Liberals win, the message to future candidates will be to raise as much money as you can from any and all sources, and then go thermonuclear on their opponents. Otherwise, you'll lose.
Or do voters want to give Dix a chance, ensuring that there will be a ban on corporate and union donations?
This will take some of the big money out of politics, which funds the character assassination that some voters have become inured to.
So far, Dix has taken the high road, as has B.C. Green Leader Jane Sterk.
If Dix ends up being punished for this by losing, we probably won't see this for another generation in a B.C. election campaign from one of the front-running parties.
Politics would be further debased in this province, and for that, we would only have ourselves to blame.