Monday, July 10, 2006

Integrity in Political Mailings

Publications that are generated by supporters of political candidates or the candidates themselves must have accurate, complete and reliable information. Political candidates mail publications for various reasons. Any content that is printed and distributed to their constituents must be reviewed for accuracy and completeness of information. Political candidates and their supporters have a responsibility to provide to their constituents accurate, complete and reliable information.

Sometimes distributed information refers to their opponents in a re-election or election campaign. Information referring to positions on issues should provide some details as to why the position has been made. While all information may not be readily available to the public, an opponent must not use this opportunity to focus on specific issues for which an incumbent may not be able to openly give specifics. Information presented by an opponent focusing on a specific issue provides a disservice to voters. Sometimes an issue is important to voters but the focus should not be on a single issue but all topics important to voters. Focusing on an incumbent’s position on an issue is an attempt, I believe, to take the focus away from qualifications of the person running for office. While this may not always be the case, I do not like this type of tactic and it lowers my opinion of any opponent to an incumbent.

Incumbents have also use the tactic identified in the previous paragraph. Whether it is an incumbent or an opponent, the tactic takes away the focus on qualifications of candidates and their position on issues facing voters. Broad statements made by any candidate must be supported by specific documentation otherwise the statements are merely words with no factual basis. Statements made without supporting information lacks integrity and makes a statement as to the character of the candidate running for office.

Mailings by political candidates should contain accurate and complete information about positions on issues. Sometimes making a statement in publications regarding a position on an issue does not allow for the reasons to be known for the position taken. Sometimes an incumbent in office makes a decision based on information they have available at the time, which may or may not be available to the public. It is important for voters to ask the question of candidates, both incumbents and their opponents, why they take certain positions on issues. This type of activity will help the voter determine who their choice should be when it comes time to vote.

In summary mailings by political candidates should be accurate, complete and reliable. Information that is presented with the purpose of or results in misleading the public provides a disservice to the voters. Political candidates should not use tactics which are aimed at discrediting an incumbent or an opponent of an incumbent where specifics cannot be provided to support decisions made.

Information in mailings should address issues facing voters and candidates positions. Publications should also focus on qualifications and differences between candidates for office, letting the voters decide who is best to fill the position. Making statements that it is time for a change does not qualify as a reason for voters to vote for a candidate running against an opponent. Content of mailings by or for political candidates reflect on the character and integrity of the candidate. We need people who exemplify the characteristics of integrity in office and will make decisions based on all the facts at their disposal even if the position taken is not popular.


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