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October 18th, 2010
11:00 AM ET

Letters to the President: #637 'Candidates hiding in plain sight'

Tom Foreman | BIO
AC360° Correspondent

Reporter's Note: I don’t know if the White House gets junk mail or endless piles of bulk campaign literature in the mailbox. But I do, and that’s one reason I’m sending this letter to the White House today.

Dear Mr. President,

The postman has been bringing a variety of campaign brochures to my house lately. Mainly the usual stuff. There is one remarkable mailer in the form of a nearly 40-page magazine touting the accomplishments of a fellow. Must have cost a fortune. These pamphlets make all sorts of claims about what this person or that has done for my benefit, although I would think that if their accomplishments were that remarkable I would have noticed them already.

What has most struck me about the ads on paper and on TV is what they don’t contain. Far many more than I can recall from previous campaigns make little or no mention of the candidate’s party. Seriously, I often look in vain for even a hint of whether the campaigner is a Democrat, a Republican, or a wandering objectivist. Same goes for many of their websites.

As secretive as they are, you would think they were all members of the Illuminati or minions from some alien species trying to take over our government and create chaos. (Although it seems as if we’re managing that pretty well on our own. Ha!)

I understand why this is happening. Democrats are in deep trouble, so your candidates don’t want to admit they are on that side. The Republicans, even though they are rising in the polls, are still disliked enough that I can understand them not waving their flag too high either. So what I find most often is both Dems and Repubs making veiled statements such as “I’m an independent thinker,” or “He (or she) is an independent who will vote his (or her) conscience.”

Still, here is my question: If you are a Democrat, Republican, true independent, liberal, conservative, or moderate, why not just say so? Because not doing so, it seems to me, constitutes a type of deception or fraud. Sure, being up front about your partnerships and credo could cost you the election in a year like this, but hiding your beliefs to win, I think, just deepens the public’s sense that no one in politics can be trusted. It’s like lying on your resume to get a job for which you are not qualified. What’s the point? How would you feel if someone applied for a position in your White House and concealed his or her actual beliefs about your policies?

I find myself thinking that what all these candidates should really be doing is asking themselves about their own identity. To put it simply, if any campaigner is afraid to say openly and proudly which party he or she is aligned with and to characterize their beliefs (and I understand that can be complex; that there can be, for example, a social liberal who is a fiscal conservative) then I can’t help but wonder if that candidate should in fact dissolve those ties and run as a true independent. After all, there is something inherently dishonest about saying “I want the benefits of membership,” but I also want the benefits of deceiving others about it.

Regards,
Tom

Follow Tom on Twitter @tomforemancnn.

Find more of the Foreman Letters here.

soundoff (2 Responses)
  1. J.V.Hodgson

    Dear Tom,
    If I see an ad or a flier or direct mail or post on a web site with any even remotely political content.
    I will listen "maybe" if I know up front
    This ad is financed and supported by X person /organisation/pac/ religious organisation,etc and a specific person who takes responsibilty in those organisations with the executive authority to do so for its truth and accuracy and accepts legal liability for lies, slander or libellous statements in the ad and the Rider that says this ad is not intended to support or otherwise any specific elected official, unless made by the Party or Person seeking election, in which latter case it opens with this ad is to support my candidacy for X elected position and they take personal responsibility for lies slander and libel personally or jointly and severally with party organisations that support said ads. If the party do not support it has to be said.
    I am all for freedom of speech by "Individuals who can vote" I see no place in freedom of speech for those organisations PAC's whatever that cannot because they are inanimate actually speak, but must therefore speak as an authorised represntative and be subject to the same laws as an individual. I.E. you can be sued for untrue, libellous, or slanderous comments = get morality back into politics not lies, deceit, money, and say what you like and get away with it.
    As rousseau said "I will defend unto death your right to say it" but it does not mean there are not consequences for immoral statements, lies, slander or libel!! Nor does the constitution protect them.
    Regards,
    Hodgson.

    October 19, 2010 at 4:21 am |
  2. Boomer in Mo

    The Tea Partiers are going to put a lot of folks in Congress. They won't play by the rules, won't know how to get anything done and the morass we have now will get worse. America is going to get what they are asking for, and they won't like it.
    Two years from now, new candidates who have been seasoned on the state political level will arise for the Democrats and Republicans and when they push the Partiers out, things will change. In the meantime, batten down your financial hatches and hold on. Things are going to get worse, much much worse, because people who don't understand basic economics and are likely to erase the U.S. Education and other department without having the sense to get rid of the accompanying regulations and mandates on the states are coming to power. Every state in the Union will be bankrupted by the Tea Party power trip.

    October 18, 2010 at 2:42 pm |