Michael I. Niman | Truthout | November 24, 2015
In October, about a week before Election Day, a Republican candidate running for a city council seat rang my doorbell in Buffalo, New York, with the hope of securing my vote. Despite a very well-funded campaign coordinated by a seasoned Republican strategist, the candidate, Peter Rouff, was still a long shot. The last time a registered Republican was elected to the Buffalo City Council was over a generation earlier, in 1981.
Rouff seemed like an affable guy. He was a dinosaur, cut from a mold that his party threw away decades earlier, who suddenly found himself transported into the future. He was a liberal New York Republican, a species no one younger than a baby boomer could recognize or fathom, the ghost of John Lindsey or Jacob Javits.
But this is 2015. So, after shaking hands and hearing him out on his concerns for our community, I asked him, “How’d you get associated with a hate group?” The local Republican Party, despite having no power in local government, still maintained an official Facebook page, where they posted Donald-Trump-grade drivel, joking about putting a coal facsimile of President Obama’s head on Mount Rushmore, promoted notions of an epidemic of Black-on-white “hate crimes,” and so on. Rouff countered that I was using harsh language. It only took a few days for his Republican handlers to prove the accuracy of my language, sending out two racially coded mailers.