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Liars, Crooks, Thieves – When Politics Turn Ugly

Decisions sign in the skyI’m going a little bit off-topic for my first blog of this week. My blog has been focused on my current life’s journey as the elected Treasurer of my Tribe and its governing body, and dealing with many of the issues that face mine and other Native communities. This time though I’m writing on how politics can become ugly real quick which we have all seen with some of the recent Senate primaries.

Elections and Negative Campaigns – Things Get Ugly Fast
My Tribe’s election process has just started and my position is up for election. Our nomination process doesn’t end for about two months and I should make my decision on whether I’m running again in about 6 weeks.

Already though the politics have started up and a few individuals are attempting to insert themselves into the process through the use of assorted lies and other false claims. Having going through this in my first election my reaction has been not to bring myself down to that level and avoiding a confrontation which I believe is what one particular person wants. During any type of an election, people can always expect some negative campaigning with lies and other false verbal accusations spread around. You got to expect this and develop a hard skin or you won’t make it too long.

Confronting a Bully or Ignoring Them
Over the past 3 years, I’ve tried to ignore some of these individuals and the lies that they try to spread by either ignoring the matter or calmly explain facts in the matter (that seems to try them into more of a frenzy though). But a recent situation has got me wondering whether I should choose to confront these people using the appropriate channels.

In a nutshell, one individual submitted a ballot question on an official form, signed it, and submitted it to the proper officials. In this proposed question, though, he made a number of written false statements about me and few other officials. My initial thought was that this was just another typical tactic of this person and I don’t intend to give him the pleasure of going tit-for-tat with him on something I know is false. But one of the other officials in the matter and some community members have come to me and want me to file a formal complaint because in the past this person’s accusations were verbal and slander is hard to provide in a court. But because it’s in writing with the individual’s signature it was noted that there is better legal argument for libel. These individuals feel something needs to be done because they have heard other people asking of its true and not.

The Question of the Day
In my mind I feel that there are two paths that I can follow:

  1. Confront this individual using the proper legal tools that are available under our laws and at least get some measure of accountability held on him and in turn provide a way to correct people of the false statements he made; or
  2. Avoid the legal arena and inform people of the truth and that this individual is make false statements but in turn not pursuing a method that would hold him accountable for these types of false statements he throws around.

Either way I go, though, it will not stop this person or discourage him from making up other lies and false accusations. So either path will not stop him and reasoning with this person will not work as his personal hatred is so strong towards me and a few others that it would be like talking to a wall. So for me it comes down to what should I to protect myself professionally, personally, and politically.

The question that I am putting on this blog post is to get some other thoughts on this matter. Basically how would you handle this type of situation or do you see another path that could be taken that might be better?

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