While I tend to mute campaign commercials, I do prefer the ones where the candidate is speaking about themselves. I find them more preferable than the attack ads that tend to be funded by outside groups and more often than not take liberties with the truth. Yet, even these commercials can perfume a pig, as words and visuals are cheap. Actions are what we should pay attention to – how did you vote? what did you promote?
In these commercials, the candidate speaks of his or her upbringing and career. He or she will speak of early on jobs that shaped his or her character giving off an “I am just like you” feel. Yet, the underlying actions are avoided, so as not to offend. He or she won’t speak of areas where he/ she might have deviated from this rosy picture.
We have an elected official who comes across as a gentle grandfather airing commercials with family. Yet, the candidate failed to mention he participated in two votes where he had a financial conflict of interest. This is public knowledge and on the record. Since the legislation would have affected his personal and business investments, he should have recused himself from those votes (leave the room when the votes were taken). Since he stayed for the votes, his behavior is unethical at best. This may sound like a small thing, but we cannot have public servants passing legislation that will benefit them personally.
There is another commercial where an official looks very compelling. If you did not know his background, it could lead you to vote for him. But, what he does not tell you is he led a General Assembly to vote for a restrictive voter law, cut unemployment benefits, reduced environmental protections, pushed through a fracking bill, reduced public funding for teachers only to claim hero status after being pressured into raises by teachers and led a vote to not expand Medicaid when the financials are so compelling for the state and those in need. This and for like reasons is why we have “Moral Monday” protests in my state.
He also does not tell you that when the budget was not able to pass one year, he sent everyone home at midnight, secretly told his party to remain close at hand and then invited everyone back in at 1 am to vote. The vote passed since the naysayers had left to go home. He also does not tell you he would not allow a representative to change her incorrectly entered vote, as what he wanted to pass did so by her one vote. Finally, he went on a radio show and said people who disagree with him are “whiners and losers.” To me, this is unprofessional at best, with the first item being unethical in my view.
In New York city, we had a mayoral candidate who had to resign from Congress for sending pictures of his private parts to girls he liked. I personally do not care what a candidate does with his or her private life, but sending nude pictures of yourself shows you lack maturity and good judgment. Both of these attributes are needed to be a public servant. Fortunately, the New York city citizens concurred. In my home town, our Mayor had to resign three months after being sworn in for the first time as he was receptive to bribery to curry favor. The FBI had been investigating him for some time, yet he polished up the apple and got elected. He did a great job of hiding that he was a crook.
Getting underneath the hood takes time and effort. It also takes paying attention to reputable news sources. The politicians count on us not paying attention and voting for the party line. However, the party line is wearing a lot of perfume. We need to do our homework, wave away the perfume and get out and vote.