swift-boat – verb [with object] informal – target (a politician or public figure) with a campaign of personal attacks | (as noun swift-boating).
“Republicans are cheaters!” Bob declared.
I considered his words carefully. He is, after all, one of my best friends and perhaps the smartest person I know.
A series of political cheating episodes came to mind, a history now at its below-the-belt nadir with our current President and airwaves filled with lies and fear-mongering.
Historically, neither party may be blameless; however, in my lifetime, the Republicans have led out with what now seems a coordinated campaign of gerrymandering, voter suppression and media manipulation.
Of these three evils, voter media manipulation is the most visible (and so the focus of this blog post).
A notorious example is the 2004 Bush II campaign attack on John Kerry’s heroic Vietnam-War-Swift-Boat career. The attack ads (funded by Texas oil tycoon T. Boone Pickens) were later proven false and resulted in the neologism.
Then, in 2010, to help fund future media strategies, the Republicans succeeded in opening the floodgates with Citizens United v. The Federal Election Commission. A Republican-led PAC, Citizens United, sought to reverse FEC restrictions on timing and funding of a smear campaign against then presidential candidate, Hillary Clinton.
The case made it to the Supreme Court and was decided in a narrow, 5-4 decision that allowed corporations to be people and unlimited corporate funding to flow into our political system.
In his dissenting opinion in the Citizens United case, Justice Stevens warned:
“The Court’s ruling threatens to undermine the integrity of elected institutions across the Nation. . . . A democracy cannot function effectively when its constituent members believe laws are being bought and sold.”
We now live in the future Justice Steven predicted: Untethered by Citizens United, corporations and special interest groups fill campaign coffers, to fund media and manipulate the vote. Confidence in our most important democratic institutions has consequently been eroded.
And we have seen an escalation in the last two election cycles: The volume of aggressive, false content in well-funded Republican attack ads has been unprecedented.
President Trump has set the example, honed the strategy and otherwise led with a steady stream of divisive, fear-inducing labels, lies and conspiracy theories — amplified and distributed by PAC-funded media campaigns, Fox Broadcasting and far right social media sites. (Recent episodes of racial and anti-Semitic violence are within the tragic consequences.)
At this dangerous time, we must restrain the growing divisiveness by stopping the swift-boating cheaters. We must elect candidates who will bring character and balance back to our political processes and repair our damaged democratic institutions.
 New Oxford American Dictionary (Second Edition).
 In Idaho, a similar example can be found in the 2014 governor race. The Otter campaign, just before the election, aired attack ads against A.J. Balukoff falsely branding him as a “California liberal.”
 Citizens United vs. Federal Election Commission, 558 U.S. 310 (2010) https://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/09pdf/08-205.pdf