That pretty much sums up the Grunter’s strategy in defending my factual rebuttal of their recent editorial. The Editor had claimed that the UNH survey showed that a majority of voters were in favor of restoring Brewster Hall. I came back with the specific numbers and pointed out the error in their assumptions. His reply was to say that I seem to think that surveys are more important than actual votes.
Actually, I do. I think it was Carl Rove (not one of my hero’s but nevertheless an undeniably smart guy) who said that an election is not a referendum. His argument was that in an election, people are forced to make a balanced choice between candidates who stand for various positions on a multitude of issues. You can’t interpret the result as support for an individual issue. In a referendum, subjects are asked specific questions about individual issues.
That’s what we have here. Voters were asked to choose between going along with the Selectmen’s offering to restore Brewster Hall, and doing nothing. There was no in-between. Employees had written to the paper to plead with voters, not to restore Brewster Hall, but to relieve their poor working conditions. The issues were muddled: Health and welfare of the employees and public, Compliance with a Federal ADA lawsuit, being fed up with the ongoing dispute, and Restoration of Brewster Hall. When those same voters were asked a year later in a simple non-binding referendum question if they want to restore the place, it’s no big surprise that 10% fewer said yes. So yeah, I put more stock in the referendum.
But the Editor would rather change the subject and imply that I’m someone who “thinks that government is at best a necessary evil and would prefer to see business conducted in the cheapest locations possible”. Plainly put, that’s crap, but it’s right out of the Grunter’s standard playbook. More often than not, they begin any report of Brewster Hall dissent with an Ad Hominem attack on the dissenter, sort of like an old western when they put a black hat on the villain.
The editor has no idea what my views are of government. He might be surprised if he ever asked me. But he cannot produce any evidence to support his latest attack, or the attack the week before where he claims that I don’t want to do anything to improve Brewster Hall.
The only way they can make their extreme position look reasonable is to make the opposition seem equally extreme. They are the ones who refuse to allow public participation, and will never know what opponents want until they ask them.