First-hand look at ugly political tactics

Normally, as the wife of an elected official, I would not take the extraordinary step of writing a letter to the editor to respond to a news story. And normally, my family would not take the extraordinary step of bringing action against a blogger for libel ("Website removes claims about Gatto," Oct. 28).

However, the tactics of my husband's opponents during this campaign have been so over-the-top that I believe we must take the steps that are necessary to protect our family and its integrity.

During the course of this campaign, we have seen our family car smashed up with a baseball bat and paint poured all over it. We have endured a cameraman following us around with an obsession that was shocking even to veterans used to rough-and-tumble politics.

My husband's female staff had to seek a restraining order against someone who threatened them, just so they could go to work and do their jobs. And we have seen extremist blogs feed the fire by posting nasty, untrue stories with alarming regularity. Each day, the stories' tenor and pitch would get more extreme, and more grounded in fantasy.

We as a society often lament that civil discourse has left politics. We are saddened by the fact that few politicians discuss issues, and instead go for deceptive personal attacks. We mourn the fact that good and decent people do not want to run for office.

After enduring almost a year of vandalism, harassment, threats and stories designed to be as outrageous as possible, I understand these concerns more than ever. I would hope that civilized people speak out and tell the perpetrators of these tactics that they are wrong.

The idea that these over-the-top tactics could become part of the political norm is deeply troubling to me, and I suspect, most families across the country.

Danielle Gatto

Silver Lake

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