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The Tentacle


July 12, 2002

Zippity Do Dah, Plenty of Sunshine Rite Cheer!

David 'Kip' Koontz

Peace, love and joy will be the general campaign theme heading into this election season if the sponsors of the New Patriotism Project get their way.

You see, they issued a "Declaration of Public Responsibility" this week calling on all candidates to run campaigns that stick to the issues and refrain from "name calling, negative comments and accusations."

Well, zippity do dah, plenty of sunshine comin' our way!

The philosophy behind the plan is to " ask candidates, the media and others, to speak to and report in a fashion that helps people come to a true understanding about the public issues and political leaders and provide the whole story fairly and accurately, among other things."

This pie in the sky idealism sounds good and looks even better on paper.

Problem is how is it really going to be applied?

Will this plan actually force candidates to answer questions honestly? Will it actually force candidates to answer questions at all? Will it force candidates to come up with their own ideas or will it continue to allow them to simply mimic those who actually thought about the issues, formed opinions and expressed them?

A look back at recent elections clearly shows that many candidates have no clue what the office they are running for is all about and what their responsibilities will be if elected. Yet it doesn't stop them from participating in the process and babbling some nonsensical answer to this question or that question simply to bluff their way into office.

Some were successful at it as they will spend their time researching everything from the moon to the stars to find out at some unknown time in the future their plan to address issues facing us today.

Will the group proposing this plan actually demand that candidates know about which they speak, or will it continue to allow candidates to say what they need to - or not - say, as long as it is said nicely, even if it in no way adds to the level of debate?

Further, how is this group going to address a candidate's non-public speech and behavior?

Recent elections show that - while candidates may have been nice to each other in public - what many candidates did behind the scenes was slice and dice and julienne fry their opponents.

Will the group request that candidates, when not in public, refrain from distorting their opponents record?

Will it ask them not to spread falsehoods about others - even if they are spread through whispered conversation and done so with a wink of an eye?

Will it call on candidates to privately behave in the same manner they are calling on them to do so publicly?

Even if they do, history shows that the candidates that come off with the aura of sweetness and light in public can be the ones who are consumed by the dark side when in private.

Elections, it seems are for winning.

Winning is the only thing some candidates will accept as the end result of their effort.

So, let's just predict now that some candidates will sign this group's pledge card and simply thumb their nose at it when the rubber hits the road.

Others won't sign it, for whatever their reason, but at least, even if they never go negative they were honest enough to admit up front there may be a need.

Simply trying to guilt candidates to behave is a somewhat odd notion altogether as most candidates - especially those who do run negative campaigns - most likely would not feel guilty to begin with.

Therefore, if this group's intend is to get candidates with a past pattern of negative behavior to "reform" they could, most likely, find better ways to spend their time.

If this group's intent is to get those whom we perceive to be honest and fair to simply go on the record that they will stay that way - a bettin' man shouldn't take the odds they necessarily will.



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