Editor’s note: The Oct. 31 issue of the Putnam County News & Recorder included a full-page advertisement placed by the Putnam County Republican Committee endorsing Republican candidates for county and state offices in the Nov. 6 election. A red banner at the bottom of the page read: “Democrats embrace Progressiveness, which becomes Socialism and ultimately COMMUNISM.” Richard Shea, a Democrat and the Philipstown supervisor, submitted this letter to The Current in response.

The ad placed in the PCNR was both ill-conceived and more than a little pathetic. It set me to wondering who at the helm of the Putnam County Republican Committee thought that calling Democrats communists was a good idea.

Democrats represent a large portion of the voting population and to dismiss them in this way was not only insulting but a serious strategic mistake. The ad raises so many questions. Who approved it? Did all the Republican candidates listed on the ad sign on to calling me a communist? Does the Putnam County Republican Committee believe this? An ad like this could, and probably should, be written off as a bad idea put together by someone who spends far too much time watching Fox News.

Having said that, there is a wealth of history that shows just how dangerous and divisive this sort of rhetoric can be. The Putnam County Republican Committee needs to recognize that we all have a role in forming the kind of society in which we wish to reside. We are all Americans and the ideals of civility, community and a peaceful society should be the foundation upon which all campaigns are built. The ad certainly did nothing to advance our common goals.

Richard Shea, Philipstown

Behind The Story

Type: Opinion

Opinion: Advocates for ideas and draws conclusions based on the author/producer’s interpretation of facts and data.

This piece is by a contributor to The Current who is not on staff. Typically this is because it is a letter to the editor or a guest column.

3 replies on “Letter: Slippery Slope”

  1. Thank you Richard for writing this. I too saw this ad in the PCNR and thought it was crazy but did nothing. So again I thank you.

  2. Thank you for expressing so well what many of us are thinking. The Republican Committee advertisement was both inaccurate and, almost certainly, absurdly ineffective. This type of divisive speech is particularly inappropriate in a small town like Philipstown, where norms of civility and collaboration have generally prevailed — at least during the three decades I have lived here.

  3. You are correct in your assumption that the ad denigrates the civility within our community. As the political scientist Cas Mudde has said: “Populism is a monist and moralist ideology which denies the existence of divisions of interests and opinions within ‘the people’ and rejects the legitimacy of political opponents.” As a member of this small community your civility as a political figure is calming and a sign of good leadership.

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