The campaign's most crucial issue: Horde or Alliance?
In the waning days of the 2012 campaign, a new attack went out. One that may echo through the ages: “She plays World of Warcraft!” This attack was launched at state senate candidate, now State Senator elect Colleen Lachowicz, who enjoyed playing the massively multiplayer online roleplaying game.
World of Warcraft, or WoW, is one of many games where players can be immersed in the digitally enhanced world of pretend. Players create their own characters (Lachowicz was an orc) and kill their way through vast worlds to fulfill varying quests. According to the Maine Republican Party, her persona in WoW represented her true feelings and disqualified her from office.
The Republican Party of Maine criticized comments where she expressed enjoyment in stabbing other characters, claiming this enjoyment proved mental instabilities that disqualified her from office. The flimsy arguments are not the point, however. The point is that this race opened the door to making internet life a cudgel in politics and beyond.
There's Internet George and Real Life George and never the two shall meet!
This might not seem relevant to regular life, but consider, where else but the internet is there more freedom? The chasm between real life and internet life is vast, especially for people who prevent commingling of worlds. Now there’s the potential for both worlds to become a weapon of the campaign process.
Consider sexting pictures of one’s package to women. While never a national pastime, it’s hard to imagine that Anthony Weiner, who did just that and left Congress in disgrace, didn’t drive the activity further underground. Once the media discovered he was guilty, they began vilifying him for his tweets as much as or more so than cheating on his wife. Anything that could be used against a politician would become either partisan or vilified, driving it further from the mainstream or acceptableness.
Last year, I posited a question to the Sex and Politics forum asking whether knowing that a politician was a member of Eden would lessen their opinion of said politician and ¾ said it was unchanged, with only 2% thinking less of the person. This wasn’t a representative sample of the population, but that’s the point. Even amongst people on a sex toy forum, it was a liability to some. Imagine what it would be like from the general population?
You're killing Internet George!
This would be acceptable if it was just the politician smeared, but more likely the kink would also be sullied. A weird but harmless fetish would suddenly become splashed all over the cable news channels and become welcome fodder to the late-night shows. It’s unlikely that many people felt more positively about baby/diaper fetishes after it was on CSI, whereas a sex scandal would have a wider audience and a clear villain, and fetish, to vilify.
Again, this might not seem important. How many people reading this are considering a run for office? Heck, it might be better as it provides a more accurate window into the candidate to read their blog posts, YouTube comments and rage comics, except for what the spotlight will do to the fetish enthusiasts.
With fetishes, it would be easiest if an enthusiast found someone who shared the same or a compatible fetish, especially if the fetish has a stronghold on the sex drive. Sometimes that’s not possible and an important part of a relationship is the give and take involved with accommodating a fetish to the point of mutual satisfaction. That gets more difficult if an enthusiast shares the fetish with the disgraced politician of the week.
Anyone with a fetish knows how difficult it is to reveal said fetish to their partner, especially a long term one. Rejecting the fetish could become tantamount to rejecting the relationship if the fetish is strong enough. Even if the rejection isn’t enough to end the relationship, it will always linger on both party’s minds. Both will know there’s someone else out there who could accommodate and even love the fetish, and wonder if they’re just counting down until that person is found.
Even revealing the fetish may never happen if it’s been completely denigrated. Right now while many fetishes are mocked, furries for example, few safe ones are truly reviled, so revelations are difficult but not impossible. Once the fetish has been associated with a disgraced politician unfortunately, that stigma could seal other enthusiasts in the closet.
A George divided against itself cannot stand!
The only solution, aside from politicians suddenly realizing that engaging in taboo activities is a bad idea for public officials, is to let internet and real life remain separate. Granted there will be instances where a person’s online life is critical to understanding them as a person, if they have online child pornography for example, but these instances are few and far between. Unless a person’s online presence reveals something fundamental about their nature, it should never be brought up in a political campaign and ignored if it is, unless we’re okay with their dirty laundry contaminating our own.