Dirty tricks aimed at LWV

The latest low in dirty politics is painting the League of Women Voters as unpatriotic.

How pathetic is that?

Some conservative commentators, including radio and cable news pundit Glenn Beck, are trying to cast the nonpartisan LWV, a group that dedicates itself to promoting participatory democracy, as anti-American.

Some of the rabble-rousers even threatened in e-mails and phone calls an LWV moderator who refused to open a meeting according to their expectations.

It all started at a recent LWV-sponsored congressional debate in Illinois when a man in the audience asked if the debate could begin with the Pledge of Allegiance.

The moderator said no. Candidates agree to rules in advance for such forums and candidates routinely expect strict adherence. The moderator was doing her job.

The audience didn't care. They booed and then recited the pledge anyway. Someone in the crowd videotaped the whole thing - sounds like a set-up - and posted the video online. Political commentator Beck heard about it and likened the LWV to liberal groups such as ACORN and the Tides Foundation.

"I'll add (the LWV) to my list of people I don't trust anymore," Mr. Beck said.

He rallied his followers and, not surprisingly, it happened again. Last week in Pennsylvania, U.S. Rep. Tim Murphy, the Republican seeking re-election in the 18th District there, asked the moderator if the pledge would be recited at the start of a debate.

"It's not a usual way" the League begins forums, the moderator explained. Not because the LWV is unpatriotic, but because it includes the pledge only when it is agreed to in advance by participants and put on an agenda. The LWV is a stickler for precisely adhering to rules and agendas. It is a political organization, but a nonpartisan one with the mission to encourage informed and active participation in government. To achieve that, it works to increase understanding of major public-policy issues and influences policy through education and advocacy.

Founded in 1920 - the year women achieved the right to vote - the LWV is a grassroots organization working at the national, state and local levels. This region is fortunate to have an active LWV chapter that helps inform the public by studying important issues and helping with forums and debates, including several during this past campaign.

It is not only untrue, but it is also terribly unfair to portray community volunteers whose mission is to promote democracy as unpatriotic. They are not. Don't be fooled by the rhetoric or the shenanigans.

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