Last night saw an election result that left many surprised and a little confused.
A candidate with no government experience, as far as I know, who has been a resident for not all that long had taken the Mayor position.
And pulled this off even in the face of what might have been a ‘show stopper’ of a public disclosure. If you want to read more about this and other aspects of the election visit this post.
Coincidentally to all of that, about two weeks before the vote a cipher started bait-posting in the local election group on Facebook.
What do I mean by cipher?
This user, a Skylin Taylor, had an account with so much privacy no one knows who they were or even their gender. Yet while they were around they created a number of conversational threads that directly or indirectly insinuated and attacked the character of the incumbent Mayor Brian Taylor. And side swiped at his daughter who was also a candidate.
Bait-Posting? What’s that?
Want to get someone to think bad things about someone else?
Pose innocuous sounding trick suggestions in the form of questions. Trick suggestions logically connect simplistic arguments together to get to a statement that sounds like a question but acts more like a declaration.
Mr. Taylor has long had a public stance of being pro marijuana.
So take the steps of where ‘we test employees for drugs right? (because bad things happen when people kill others because they are high on the job, they add later on)
‘we likely test city employees’.
‘So should the mayor and city councilors be tested too?
‘why not if we test everyone to make sure they don’t do drugs because drugs are illegal and all druggies are criminals right?’
Of course the way they post this doesn’t come out all jumbled together that way – nope. It comes out in bits.
‘We drug test all employees right?’
and since it’s not really a discussion they carry on as if you were there and nodded yes. And it’s not true but they pose a false declaration in the guise of a question
and they are using it to imply ‘city employees are tested, right?’
Well neither of us knows do we? But they carry on as if it’s true.
And suggest that maybe we do this with elected officials knowing that there’s one elected official that will immediately come to mind.
Other posts were outright baiting of anyone who might have any leanings away from a black and white attitude about the things that are controversial about Mr. Taylor or his council.
If someone takes the bait it’s usually because they want to rebut an outrageous statement. Which is followed by another bald faced piece of inanity but delivered so that it looks logical, sane and normal. Which is all designed to inflame and enrage the targets so much that they begin to post ‘from the hip’. The more angry you can make them the less likely they’ll self censor and more likely they’ll post something that will reflect negatively on them.
And if you looked at councilor Smith’s posts and outcome it likely worked.
Now I cannot say for sure that this person was a real Agent Provocateur but a few days before the election a number of people began to call them that, myself included. And point out the nature of their posts and how they appeared to be designed with targets in mind. Shortly after that they just disappeared and all their posts conveniently disappeared with them.
Their job was done: Everyone was reminded of Brian Taylor’s connection to pot, pot’s legal status and innuendo planted in the heads of those who just weren’t all that aware. Councilor Smith was actively engaged in fighting all comers.
Now none of this really has anything to do with being Mayor.
When the news broke that candidate Konrad’s company had filed an Expression Of Interest on the program that he opposed so vociferously, news that most everyone was unaware of, this cipher goes on to say that they don’t understand how people could possibly think that Mr. Konrad might be unhappy with city staff for not being short listed. Really? Seriously?
They would try to spin character poison out of the merest hint of something like pot or familial connection but defend a near indefensible position?
Was this cipher a ‘volunteer’ or agent of someone with an election agenda? Who knows, I don’t. They are gone.
Am I making a mountain out of a mole hill?
Maybe … but this type of political manipulation becomes relatively easy with free to join services like Facebook where you can be anyone. I was not the first or last to see this person as an agent provocateur. We live in a post Pierre Poutine world here in Canada, eh?
What depresses me the most is the possibility of local politics having come to this. As I talked with others waiting in the Perley School Gym for the results there were a couple of common thoughts and feelings. A feeling of alignments pervaded many people’s perceptions. Not quite partisan politics but not normal as it has been here in peoples memories.
As we waited in the hall and later in the gym I heard comments and questions from Scrutineers that I’d not heard in the previous 3 elections I’d been part of. These comments left the distinct impression that they didn’t trust city staff to tell them the truth or the process to be fair.
The climate around this election is definitely different from past ones …
Now you may think I think this Skylin Taylor cipher was working for one particular candidate. I must confess I do not know and I do not say that they did. But here’s the thing, Skylin Taylor has tainted this. It stinks. And that’s wrong. Whomever was playing the part has made this stink. And while they might not be doing a candidate a service, they are certainly doing a candidate a disservice. Likely more than one. And all of us as well.
And this is where I get to be a bit emotional and say:
Screw You Skylin Taylor for Screwing with Our election. If you didn’t then come out of the dark and prove it. I dare you … I’ll even buy you coffee.