The primary election is very late this year. Usually all primaries are over in the late spring and the emerging candidates have had an opportunity to campaign all summer. This year the candidates for the general election sat back, if they were not challenged in their own party, and let the primary candidates duke it out. The delay was caused mainly by the redistricting that occurs every ten years as a result of new census numbers.
The primaries have brought about the usually cases of devouring one’s own young, with some campaigns being more vicious than others. The Internet is a powerful tool. It allows some a louder voice than one would normally have and it gives those who oppose a candidate an even louder voice, if they so choose, because they can spew venom at will without detection. The Internet political enemy can change identities or they can clone themselves into multiple villains all with the same target. In a democracy, disagreement is normal and even healthy. The anonymity of the Internet creates a situation where attackers do not have to assume responsibility for their words and deeds.
Normally nice people can cause hurt. However, bullies love the Internet because they can become bigger than life and can inflict pain and political damage on people with very little effort. The bullies don’t just emerge at election time. They are always lurking in the shadows, ready to hurl some nasty invective at someone who has displeased them or at some perceived enemy. However, an election can become a feeding frenzy for the bully. Bullies can keep decent folks from even wanting to run for office.
People of good will and decent character need to shun these bullies and refuse to associate with them. We know who most of them are. It is critical to a democracy to keep good people who bring a wealth of talent to public service wanting to serve. They will not if we allow meanness and character assassination to drive them away.