Saturday, July 5, 2008

Media as a Minority Opposition Enabler?

Richard discusses the opposition fighters in the debate over rail transit. What's interesting is how the media in these cities plays into the fight. In Charlotte they played up the opposition so much during the transit tax referendum that there was a thought that it could possibly win, even I was a little worried about it. But when the vote came out, it was 70-30. A classic drubbing.

What happened to drum up the opposition to have such clout? I'm not sure but the media seemed to be deep in it, and of course would bring readers to the Observer site as well as the John Locke Foundation blog which was the major source for the opposition.

Now in Honolulu we're seeing a massive media blitz, seizing on the conflict to setup and epic battle. Even the opposition leader is running for mayor, just like in Charlotte. Obviously he's not going to win on one issue alone, but it seems rather like a ploy to shine more attention on the division, even if there might not even be a real division by the vast majority on the island.

But the opposition has gotten nasty as well, not being able to win on the issues they are going to nasty depths.

In the most recent attack circulated via e-mail last weekend, a satirical illustration and text compared rail advocates to al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden and the Nazis. Hannemann administration officials said the e-mail "crosses the line."

The e-mail, with the subject line "People in Hawaii Are Too Stupid -- DON'T Let Them Vote on Rail," features a photo of Osama bin Laden with the message, "People of Oahu, you should NOT be allowed to make any big decisions in the ballot box. Only Mufi and his friends should decide."

It's gotten so bad in fact that the local paper has asked everyone to tone it down, something which they were enablers of and allowed to get out of hand even in their own paper. I have never seen an article on the facts or benefits, just who said what.

I think though that the Mayor has done the right thing by fighting back. There is no reason he needs to take a beating like this, especially from folks funded on the mainland by highly ideological anti-rail groups.

It will be interesting to see how this plays out. This is the reason though that there has to be a strong leader at the front of these things. If not, it will die under the onslaught of a well funded opposition. The one common theme in all cities that have started with rail or have been able to continue is a strong mayor or governor pushing it hard. If you want transit, a leader like the mayor is key.

1 comment:

Loren said...

The next question is what the anti-rail brigade will do as oil prices go up and up and up with no end in sight; the latest price is $144/barrel.

Given their love of buses, will they start becoming enthusiastic about electric trolleybuses? :)