Smear dissenters, to dissuade their participation if possible... to destroy their reputations if necessary
Despite the immediate feelings of success or failure in a smear campaign the whole political process is degraded and made to look foolish, wasteful, a threat to personal integrity and some say their own spiritual power. It weakens all political parties that allow their party operatives to employ these tactics at any level, whether it is at the national level with characters like Karl Rove and Scooter Libby, or in Bemidji with small men like Michael Meuers.
Meuers wastes his time these days spreading rumors about someone who highlighted his abuse of DFL party processes, his statements that certain candidates where ineligible to pursue DFL endorsement, etc. , but those mistakes of Meuers have been shown clearly to be wrong, whatever his intent.
Whether or not Meuers assertions about his opponents are true, the fact remains he has been found to be at fault by the State DFL Constitution and By-Laws committee. The fact remains that he said a member of another party could not join the DFL and seek party endorsement when clearly that has happened with other politicians, like MN State Senator Dean Johnson. There is at least a 1 in 10 chance that Meuers was the faithless elector in 2004, casting a vote for John Edwards instead of John Kerry. Luckily for Minnesota that vote in the electoral college was not critical. At the time, a 60-year old Meuers shrugged it off as a "senior moment". Whether it was early onset senility or malice, Meuers was then, as he is now, a threat to the integrity of the DFL on every level, and he should be found ineligible to be the ?Alternate to the State Central Committee? due to malefeasance in the previous positions of responsibility he has held within the Beltrami Co. DFL and in Democratic party institutions at other levels.
Again, no party can afford to operate this way in this cycle... the Republicans must distance themselves from these personalities and tactics and address the issues that appeal to their base. The smear campaign against McCain may have won South Carolina for the Bush campaign in the race for the Republican nomination. Now that McCain is the leading contender for the Republican nomination in 2008, they have an opportunity to employ similar tactics against their opponents or to adhere to higher principles.
Democrats must apply rational sanctions (social, formal or informal) against those from within their ranks that would employ groundless smear tactics, whether it is seen in a letter writing campaign against a contender for a small legislative race, fake blogs complaints against a gubenatorial candidate and their staffers, or more direct personal attacks. You may not all like what I do for fun and profit on the internet, but you can't argue with the facts of how this DFL process should work, and the process is at least as important as its outcome, or no one will trust our candidate selection process and continue to build party power that is more substantive and lasting than slogans like "Democratic Unity" and "Electability".