Disgraceful Mailer by Aaron Ringel. Vote Bob Brink!

Friday, October 30, 2009

In case anyone needed any more evidence that there's something fundamentally wrong with Virginia Republicans these days, here's an example of what I'm talking about. The flyer depicted above was paid for and authorized by a supposedly "moderate" Arlington Republican - endorsed by the supposedly "liberal" Washington Post, no less - Aaron Ringel. From what I hear, there's also a Ringel robocall saying essentially the same thing.

In fact, the only thing this inflamatory and disgusting attack mailer proves is that Aaron Ringel doesn't want to (can't?) run on the issues, because he knows he's completely out of step with Arlington voters (not to mention the fact that he has essentially zero public policy experience himself). Instead, Ringel comes out with a mailer designed to induce fear and loathing, as well as to perpetuate assumptions that have no factual basis.

In reality, of course, this bill, HB 1481, specifically excluded anyone involved in "the sexual molestation or physical or sexual abuse or rape of a child." It didn't require, only provided that "a contractor or his employee may request a waiver from disqualification of providing services because of a felony conviction under certain conditions." It only applied to people with a felony conviction which "occurred at least five years prior to the date of the waiver request." It also specifically excluded "any crime against the person under Chapter 4 of Title 18.2: murder, manslaughter, homicide, shooting, stabbing, abduction, assault and battery, carjacking, rape, sexual battery, etc. In short, basically any violent crime against a person is excluded from the waiver request for non-violent, ex-felons. Not only that, but this law would have only applied to those non-violent, ex-felons once they'd been out of prison for 5 years. In sum, this bill provided for a possible waiver for people who were never violent, didn't ever harm a child, had paid their debt to society, and had been "clean" for 5 years or more. Why someone like this would be any more of a threat to children than pretty much anyone else hired by school systems is unclear, unproven, unsubstantiated, and frankly unhinged.

Sadly, Aaron Ringel doesn't appear troubled by the facts in his vicious attack against Del. Bob Brink (D-48). More broadly, all this does is make me wonder whether Ringel's vision for our society is that we continue locking up people at the highest rate of any "advanced" nation in the world, then never give them a chance to reintegrate into society (note: Jim Webb is working on this issue, which he calls a "national disgrace;" for more, see here).

Furthermore, does Aaron Ringel really believe that irresponsibly (and lightly) tossing around the loaded term "convicted felon," tarring all these people as inherently harmful to our children, is in any way constructive, responsible, or sound public policy? Sadly, it appears that Ringel thinks it is. Well, I'm sorry, but this ad is disgusting and Aaron Ringel should be ashamed of himself for authorizing it. Beyond that, the fact that this ad is being used against a superb public servant like Bob Brink tells us a great deal - none of it good - about Republicans, about our political system, and about our culture.

On November 3, I strongly urge that all Arlingtonians in the 48th House of Delegates district reject this disgusting mailer and the person who authorized it. Vote Bob Brink, and let's send a message that Arlington is better than this trash.

P.S. I hear that this template has been used by Republicans on a fill-in-the-name basis against Democratic incumbents across the Commonwealth. The only question was whether Aaron Ringel would have enough money - and lack of scruples - to run it. Sadly, the answer on both those points was "yes."

UPDATE: I received a statement from Del. Brink.
My opponent grew up in the Karl Rove era of Republican politics, and apparently he thinks Rove-style personal attacks, half-truths, and fear-mongering are the way to win an election. I think he's wrong. Having lived in Arlington for over 30 years, I'm confident the voters in the 48th will reject such ham-fisted smear tactics.