Beware of smear tactics in midterm election

By Jo Len Everhart
Reader Contributor

I am concerned over the smear tactics used in the last Republican Primary — and concerned that we might see a repeat in the upcoming Nov. 8 midterm election.

For instance, Jim Woodward has been our state senator to the Idaho Legislature from District 1 for the last two terms, doing an outstanding job representing Boundary County and part of Bonner County. But I was dismayed to see that such an excellent senator was defeated in the GOP primary in May by what I considered to be a smear campaign by his opponent.

I have known Jim Woodward for many years and closely followed his four years in the Senate in Boise — so I realized that the 18 or so slick cartoon-type postcards sent out by his opponent were untruths and gross exaggerations about Jim.

But I did not realize what an impact this propaganda was having until after the election, when Jim lost. Then I started talking to people and discovered that their almost-universal explanations of why they had voted against Jim ran something like this:

“I used to think Jim Woodward was a great guy… it seemed like he was doing a good job in Boise… but when we repeatedly saw the big list of things that his opponent accused Jim of doing and saying — well, even if only a few of these accusations are true — I just couldn’t vote for Woodward. I don’t know what happened to him… I never thought he would go downhill so fast.”

I was so sad because I knew they had been fooled by this propaganda. I would have been fooled too, it looked so believable — that is, if I had not known Jim and talked to him frequently about these issues which he was wrongly accused of. I finally understood the psychology behind this “big lie” tactic — why telling big lies is so much more effective in deceiving people, rather than using small white lies — when someone pointed out one paragraph from Adolf Hitler’s book, Mein Kampf, in which he describes very clearly why the “big lie” works so well:

“In the big lie there is always a certain force of credibility; because the broad masses of a nation are always more easily corrupted in the deeper strata of their emotional nature than consciously or voluntarily; and thus in the primitive simplicity of their minds they more readily fall victim to the big lie more than the the small lie, since they themselves often tell small lies in little matters, but would be ashamed to resort to large-scale falsehoods. It would never come into their heads to fabricate colossal untruths, and they would not believe that others could have the impudence to distort the truth so infamously. Even though the facts which prove this to be so may be brought clearly to their minds, they will still doubt and waver and will continue to think that there may be some other explanation.”

In short, Hitler is saying that the big lie is so effective because most of us are too trusting and good-hearted to imagine anyone would tell such “colossal untruths.”

I think this technique is what knocked Woodward off the Republican slate during the recent primary election. Jim fought back against the smears, specifically mailing an extra-big postcard to voters, explaining the falsehoods in all eight of the biggest fraudulent claims, but people were already deceived.

Will this smear tactic be used again in the upcoming midterm election? Be on guard if you get postcards with pictures of a candidate with a balloon-type “quote” of something you think he probably would never say. Or if the card resorts to belittling and name-calling, beware, and try to talk to the candidate personally or talk to someone who knows his actual positions on the topics in question.

So I hope you will join me in writing in the name Steve Johnson on the blank line (below the printed name) on the ballot for District 1 state senator and then filling in the little oval beside Steve’s name.

I have spoken in person with Steve Johnson (independent write-in), and am convinced he is the best candidate for this important Idaho Senate seat.

Jo Len Everhart is a 42-year resident of Boundary County and a registered Republican.

While we have you ...

... if you appreciate that access to the news, opinion, humor, entertainment and cultural reporting in the Sandpoint Reader is freely available in our print newspaper as well as here on our website, we have a favor to ask. The Reader is locally owned and free of the large corporate, big-money influence that affects so much of the media today. We're supported entirely by our valued advertisers and readers. We're committed to continued free access to our paper and our website here with NO PAYWALL - period. But of course, it does cost money to produce the Reader. If you're a reader who appreciates the value of an independent, local news source, we hope you'll consider a voluntary contribution. You can help support the Reader for as little as $1.

You can contribute at either Paypal or Patreon.

Contribute at Patreon Contribute at Paypal

You may also like...

Close [x]

Want to support independent local journalism?

The Sandpoint Reader is our town's local, independent weekly newspaper. "Independent" means that the Reader is locally owned, in a partnership between Publisher Ben Olson and Keokee Co. Publishing, the media company owned by Chris Bessler that also publishes Sandpoint Magazine and Sandpoint Online. Sandpoint Reader LLC is a completely independent business unit; no big newspaper group or corporate conglomerate or billionaire owner dictates our editorial policy. And we want the news, opinion and lifestyle stories we report to be freely available to all interested readers - so unlike many other newspapers and media websites, we have NO PAYWALL on our website. The Reader relies wholly on the support of our valued advertisers, as well as readers who voluntarily contribute. Want to ensure that local, independent journalism survives in our town? You can help support the Reader for as little as $1.