Vigorous Campaigning Healthy for Democracy!

Please accept my apology and explanation if any voters were offended or confused by my letter posted in the Muskegon Tribune last week comparing the records of Sean Mullally and Terry Sabo for the 92nd District State of Michigan House representative seat. Three complaints I heard were that it was race baiting, confusing, and dividing the Democratic Party.

My position is simple. I firmly believe that democracy works best when we have a well-educated and properly informed electorate. Therefore, I am willing to provide information I’m aware of that is pertinent to the candidates’ character and ability to perform the job. I would invite others to do so as well. Don’t you know that if we don’t weed out the bad candidates in the primaries that the Republicans will investigate and destroy them in the general election? We will have wasted our time and money.

I also know the consequences of not having proper knowledge of the character and record of those who we choose to represent us can lead to us elect someone who actually works against us. At the national level we have investigative journalist who report this information. In many of the local races the campaigns do the investigating and report to us through their campaign literature. This competition can be messy and seem divisive. However, it is the way our democracy is designed to work to help us select the best representative. I consider campaign competition healthy as long as it is factual and not misleading. At the national level we often have fact finders who inform us whether the campaigns are telling the truth or not. That service is not always available in some of the smaller races.

When I saw campaign literature from the Terry Sabo campaign that was deceptive and misleading and unjustly very damaging to Sean Mullally, I responded to correct the record. I feel that this is not only a democratic right that we have, but an obligation and responsibility that should not be neglected.

Regarding race baiting, my comparison and contrast is not race baiting. Both candidates are white men. Sean Mullally has demonstrated a history of caring about our democratic values. Terry Sabo seems to have a history of promoting values more aligned with Republicans, openly attacking women, and true Democrats, financial irresponsibility, and showing little respect or regard for the African-American community.

Regarding confusion, when lies are told and the truth is revealed confusion is normal until the facts are verified. That’s why we need independent fact checkers to reveal the truth. Then the truth will set you free.

Regarding dividing the Democratic Party, my belief is that a little housecleaning is good for the Democratic party. If I provide information that helps voters decide what is worth keeping and what should be discarded, that should be considered a valuable service. In my opinion there is little worse than being deceived into voting against your own best interests. It has long been a Republican strategy to infiltrate Democratic institutions to divide and destroy them from within. The strategy has worked very well. I saw this firsthand back in the 1980s when I was a local union vice president and chief steward with the State of Michigan, Department of Management and Budget. Under John Engler, our union leadership was infiltrated by Republicans. Locals began to divide and split off. Members were underserved and our efforts frustrated. It was then easy for Republicans to say the unions are taking your money and doing nothing for you. That’s why and how we ended up with the Right to Work (for less!) law. Which in itself is a Republican marketing strategy of deception that caused many union members to vote against their own best interests.

I am hoping to prevent us from making a similar mistake in the 92nd District. If we send the wrong person to Lansing our efforts will be frustrated, people will be disappointed, voter apathy will result. Voter apathy is already what I consider to be the number one problem for the Democratic Party. Too many people feel disenfranchised, forgotten, and left behind, and so they don’t vote. If we don’t begin to elect people who are true Democrats who will remember us after the election, we will feel underrepresented and feel that our vote doesn’t count. That’s why I’ve endorsed Sean Mullally. If Terry Sabo’s record is showing weakness in the primary, how can we expect him to champion our cause in the big league?

Oscar Kent

Montague, MI

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