It was just a passing comment in Kelli Ward’s presentation Tuesday.
But it subtly pointed out one of the sad social and political problems of our times.
Speaking to the Pima County Republican Club, Ward, the chair of the state GOP, said the party would be offering social media training to help the party’s activists spread their online impact on Facebook.
“We will even help you create a secondary account — not a fake account, a secondary account, a political account, something that your grandkids don’t have to see if you don’t want them to, that allows you to send the message far and wide,” Ward said.
It was that interjection, “something that your grandkids don’t have to see,” that struck a nerve with me. For so many of us, Facebook started as a place to share photos and personal news with family members and friends. But somewhere along the way, politics and the company’s algorithm hijacked it. What was a friendly way to keep up with people you know became a place to fight with acquaintances and strangers about politics. The company made money that way.
It looks, in retrospect, like 2016 was the worst year for this. That’s when it became so obvious how you could polarize Americans with silly memes on Facebook that the Russians made us look like fools. They even got people to show up at anti-immigrant rallies in the United States just by posting events on Facebook.
And gradually, those family members we connected with in order to share family pictures, and innocuous news of graduations and births, started to fight with us. Or we fought with them. We fought over a variety of things, but as time went on, it mostly came back to Donald Trump, the polarizing candidate who became president. Some loved him, the rest hated him. Not many fell in between.
Star reader Jeffrey McConnell had an experience sort of like this that I spoke with him about on Thursday. McConnell is politically conservative, and his grand-nephew in California started posting political memes on Facebook about the “99 percent” vs. the “1 percent” and that sort of thing, McConnell said.
“I responded to those politely,” he said. “Any kind of pushback is not tolerated.”
Eventually, McConnell stopped posting about politics on Facebook, except in one specific group page, to avoid the conflict.
“He cut back on the amount of those posts he puts up on Facebook,” as well, McConnell said. “I mended it by shutting up.”
These are the sort of people Ward’s idea is intended for. She wants people to spread the Arizona GOP’s messages but knows that those posts cause trouble for some people. In a sense, isolating your political views from your family relationships seems like a good idea. If you just fight about politics with your family, why keep talking about it with them?
On the other hand, we’ll never be able to reconcile with each other if we isolate ourselves into political tribes. In that sense, it was sadly consistent for me that Ward made these comments at the Pima County Republican Club. I wasn’t there to hear them, but got them from a recording made by my colleague Joe Ferguson, because this club banned me years ago, arguing my columns were biased against Republicans.
Dorgan to retire
Longtime Pima County Constable Mary Dorgan is about done with eviction papers and orders of protection.
Serving those papers has been among her primary duties as an elected constable over the last 18 years. Dorgan, 62, now plans to retire May 31. She came up with the retirement plan when her sister got sick with ovarian cancer and needed help, Dorgan said. But after her sister died two weeks ago, Dorgan decided to stick with the plan.
“It’s changed so much out here. My area is a pretty dangerous area,” she said. “Everybody’s got guns, and there’s lots of drugs out there.”
Dorgan’s father, Thomas, served as a constable for 17 years, as did her brother Daniel. She previously worked as postmaster in Green Valley, before taking a year off, then deciding to pursue the constable’s job.
“It’s been a good gig. I’ve been able to treat people with dignity and respect,” she said.
Dorgan was last elected in November 2016, so there will be about 1 1/2 years left in her term serving a midtown area. The Pima County Board of Supervisors is accepting applications from those interested in taking on the job until 5 p.m. Friday, May 3. The board must select a Democrat, because that is Dorgan’s party registration. So far, Jeremey Lasher and Donald Erickson have applied.
Kelly protests billboard
The GOP has been pushing Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Mark Kelly over his position on proposals to expand Medicare. Now he’s arguing they’ve pushed too far.
In late April, the National Republican Senatorial Committee put up a billboard in Phoenix saying “Mark Kelly silent as 3,471,500 Arizonans would lose their private health insurance.”
Kelly’s team took the bait: Their attorney sent a cease-and-desist letter to Lamar Advertisting demanding that the billboard be taken down.
“This statement is false,” the letter says. “The truth is that Captain Kelly spoke out on the public record before the billboard was published to clearly say that he is against Medicare for All. These facts were public and were available to Lamar Advertising at the time of publishing.”
The NRSC could barely contain its glee in its attorney’s response: “The NRSC is grateful that Mr. Kelly has now decided to hire legal counsel to explain his new position on Medicare for All. While we have your client’s attention, we want to inform you that we will soon be publicizing the fact that Kelly is also well-known for his silence on the Green New Deal, thus putting 242,810 Arizona jobs at risk.”
It’s gonna be a lonnnngggg campaign.