Imagine you are going to get your mail mid morning or after work, as one one does. You open your mailbox and see an assortment of bills, advertisements, and perhaps a postcard or two.
Then, nestled into the various envelopes you find a blood red flier. Looking closer, this flyer contains a list of state Rep. Brad Tabke’s accomplishments or travesties, depending on where you sit politically.
But at the bottom of this letter you see the name of your neighbor and the amount your neighbor has legally donated to Tabke’s campaign. Is this legal? Perhaps. Was it right? No. Not at all. Because the goal of this unfortunate flier isn’t to inform or gather political support. This flier was made to intimidate the opposition and to divide this town, neighborhood by neighborhood.
It is possible to disagree about policy without name calling. In an earlier column I wrote about how a discussion over immigration brings out racist and xenophobic tendencies. Let me be clear, I do not think those that have hard-line positions on immigration and drivers licenses for all are xenophobic. My point was that some people revert to using xenophobic language when disagreeing with policy. And frankly that can happen on all sides of the political aisle. However these letters are meant to do more than just showcase differences in policy opinion.
First, there is no authorship of the flyer. Obviously the author does not agree with Mr. Tabke, but rather than offer an alternative person to support in a future campaign, this individual chooses to remain anonymous. Why? Lack of courage? Fear of political retribution? Likely both, in my humble opinion.
Second, the addition of the neighbors’ name shows that the author wants to create disharmony and bad blood between neighbors. This to me is unforgivable.
When the administrators of the Concerned Citizens of Shakopee had a get together at a local pub, it was such a great time to meet residents from all walks of life with different opinions. It built a sense of community because I knew that despite disagreeing with some of my neighbors, I found they were good people and wanted what was best for this town.
These letters are doing the exact opposite. It seems to me that the author of this flier wants you to either confront your neighbor or to severe any neighborly relationship you may have built. Clearly they are asking you to hold your neighbors responsible for policies being passed that they find threatening. In a worst-case scenario, a call to action like this could cause an unhinged individual to use violence as a method of silencing the opposition.
Frankly, I reject this sad attempt at division in our fine town. No one should have to fear supporting a lawmaker who stands for their beliefs. That is the beauty of this country. So I say publicly that when it comes to this red flier, and any other anonymous flier that comes my way between now and 2020 elections, RETURN TO SENDER.