The Portland Press Herald published an editorial that deserves broader distribution and discussion:
The website Politico — which covers politics, naturally enough — reported this week about an escalation in “opposition research” that should concern Americans of all political persuasions.
For those who aren’t familiar with what campaign strategists call “oppo,” it usually involves researching an opponent’s public history to dig up videos, statements or other public facts that can be used to cast the target’s present-day qualifications into doubt.
Politics being a contact sport, there’s nothing unethical about those activities, and voters can be responsible for sorting out the claims they produce, just as they are for any other political ad.
But until recently, unless something in a candidate’s private life entered the public sphere on its own, there was a line drawn between the personal and political that was very rarely crossed.
That seems to be behind us now, however. Candidates are used to having opponents’ representatives film their speeches and other public actions, hoping to find a “gaffe” or other slipup that would provide fodder for an attack ad.
But according to a Politico report titled “GOP unnerved by Democrats’ candid camera tactics,” cameramen have been lurking around several Republican congressional candidates’ private homes and posting the videos, with addresses, on the Internet.
The purpose appears to be to show that these candidates live in nice, well-kept houses, and thus are (in the minds of their opponents) unable to sympathize with the poor.
Read the rest of the editorial on Chicago Tribune.
There are all kinds of dirty politics. And one could argue that images of homes and addresses are pretty much public information these days thanks to online real estate records, people search directories, and Google Street View. But while I can see how some might argue that there is no expectation of privacy, having photographers lurking and taking pictures and posting addresses on the Internet and following candidates around in their personal lives – as described in the Politico piece – crosses my personal creepy line.
I urge those engaged in such practices – from all political parties – to stop this tactic and respect the privacy of candidates and their families.
Find another way to make points while respecting privacy, please. As a voter, I can assure you that you will lose my vote if I find out you have engaged in these tactics.