George Brauchler

Unity. That’s the political word of the day after the primaries last Tuesday. I’ve been in the trenches and on the ballot this campaign cycle and since Tuesday the GOP mantra has been “unity.”

I’m not there yet.

Politics is a rough and tumble business. In my five trips to the polls over the past 16 years, I’ve thrown a few hard punches and taken many more. Accusations of inexperience, incompetence, softness on crime and adhering to party-unconforming values ​​are routine. Partial facts are twisted into something unrecognizable. But that’s the game — and anyone who doubts their ability to withstand such attacks should remain an anonymous troll on social media. Some of the sharpest attacks come from within the GOP, and this year was no exception — only worse.

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The state and county GOPs — in an unprecedented move — did not endorse me because I was unfit for office or because I did not share our party’s values. No, my great political sin was that I earned a spot on the primary ballot with 1,300 Republican signatures, instead of a few hundred votes in a gymnasium. Now that they have lost nearly every race they have endorsed, their message to me is — “unity.”

For those who compare politics to sports, they are mistaken. Sports have norms of behavior, written and customary. Modern politics has none.

I’m writing this as I watch my youngest son play in a baseball game. Win or lose, those young men cross the field to shake hands. That’s good sportsmanship. It used to be the custom in politics for the losing candidate to call the winner, acknowledge defeat, and wish him or her the best in community service. My call to Phil Weiser the morning after the 2018 general election was a waste of time. I didn’t look forward to it, but it was appropriate and necessary. It’s even more important in the primaries, when the campaign is only halfway over — and success often depends on all the previously opposing factions uniting to defeat the other candidate in November.

But much has changed since I was last on the ballot. Politics has become mean and personal. Hateful. Toxic. The lines of decency that once existed have been broken so many times that we can no longer see them. Yet, despite the coarsening of the political process, the idea of ​​HIOB (see HBO’s “Entourage”) and “just getting over it” in the name of unity remains the expectation.

I do not agree with it.

There has to be a limit to how we treat each other in real life, let alone in public. If we fail to set an acceptable standard now — a standard we want future generations of candidates to meet — politics will continue to devolve into a mosh pit of the sharpest personalities. We need to hold each other accountable, not dismiss the undeniable as “just politics.”

In my own race, it didn’t matter that my opponent fabricated campaign endorsements from nationally known conservative Allen West; or that she had to delete multiple social media posts claiming that people had supported her who hadn’t; or that she had even aligned herself with a small, extremist gun organization to perpetuate a false narrative about my record. In politics, such things are not unexpected.

It didn’t stop there. My opponent’s campaign and his supporters took a much more personal, aggressive, and venomous approach to defeating me. It started with a complaint to Secretary of State Jena Griswold, alleging that I had been running a “shadow campaign.” Then they attacked my license to practice law with trumped-up complaints to the Office of Attorney Regulation Counsel. Then it was my daughter’s turn, who they made the subject of a Facebook page promoted by my opponent’s wife. In the past few weeks, they’ve claimed that I was fired from 710KNUS, accused me of committing a myriad of crimes, including bribing a government official and embezzling $30 million in taxpayer money, and made many other libelous, salacious, and unsubstantiated claims. Nothing was off limits to them.

These are despicable and desperate acts, especially when my children use social media to follow their father’s campaign. Without explanation or apology, and by removing them from social media, they will continue forever.

My report is just one of many candidates who have been subjected to these types of attacks. Based on the lack of public objection or consequences, these tactics are becoming increasingly accepted.

Not by me. Not anymore.

The election results were never in question. I beat my opponent nearly 2-to-1. Yet my opponent never called to concede. Not even a DM or a text. Instead, a misspelled tweet with some nonsensical reference to “iron sharpens iron.” The truth is, feces doesn’t sharpen iron; it just dirties the blade. For the party, there was a quick rallying cry from those campaigning against a fellow Republican — to say “let’s unite.”

Sure, but unity does not come from ignoring the “by any means necessary” approach to politics. What unity requires is personal responsibility. For every little athlete who shakes hands with their opponents, there must be a personal appeal — an apology, without which there can be no forgiveness. Retract the personal, hateful lies. And promise to be better.

Let us unite first on decency. Politics will follow.

George Brauchler is the former U.S. District Attorney for the 18th Judicial District and is running for U.S. District Attorney in the newly created 23rd Judicial District. He has served as an Owens Early Criminal Justice Fellow at the Common Sense Institute. Follow him on Twitter(X): @GeorgeBrauchler.