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June 15, 2010

Preparing for The Smell Test

Farrell Keough

If tomorrow were Election Day, who would you vote to represent you? Most of us have our jobs, careers, or businesses to run and have not given the various candidates much thought.


But, the candidates and parties have given the various candidates and elections quite a bit of thought. In fact, it will likely not surprise you that some in the political machines have made plans for some years to ensure their candidate of choice gets the preeminent position and treatment. In short, politics as usual – your choice has been made for you.


But, this is a very different environment for elections than any time before in our history. We have had many seasons of “throw the bums out” and a myriad of other catchy slogans. This environment is different. The people have risen and the people are taking responsibility on their own to learn and understand not only the issues, but the guiding documents behind our state and nation.


This is a very different atmosphere from years gone by – it is not simply “throw the bums out” but rather elect those who truly understand what their representation is supposed to mean.


So, how does one ensure their selection of candidates is a fair representation or not someone chosen by the political machinery?


First and foremost, ask yourself why this person? Maryland has a very late primary – a serious problem for a new or unknown candidate, but boon for an incumbent. Right now those new candidates are out knocking on doors, going to fairs and carnivals, having fundraisers, and a plethora of other activities to engage their constituency. Take the time to talk with them. Take the time to research if there is more than one candidate running in the Republican or Democrat primary. If you don’t do this footwork, you will be stuck with yet another election of the lesser of two evils rather than the person of your choice.


Many of the writers for will assist in this process. Some have already written about various candidates and as we loom closer to the primaries, more will likely weigh in on these races.


Hold the candidates and writers accountable. A number of writers are sitting on stories while they finalize important points and verify sources. Once these positions or opinions are forwarded, ask yourself if they pass the smell test.


All of us have had life experiences which guide our thinking. Are we hearing stump speeches that are the core beliefs and practices of the candidate or are they tailored to the audience. Does the candidate tell different audiences different positions? Does the writer omit important information while attempting to persuade?


Finally, talk with friends who don’t often carry your viewpoint. For instance, may staunch Republicans believe the TEA Party people have been a tremendous rallying cry. Many “insiders” to the Republican Party will mollify these groups; but, in reality, they are not adhering to the points of lowering taxes or determining constitutionality.


On the other hand, some in these movements toss around terms like constitutionality, but neglect the truth of turning a ship two degrees at a time. Engage your mind by having conversations and debates on these methods and ideologies – consider how the candidate would turn a ship as large as this government.


There are some interesting stories and commentary to come over these lazy days of summer. Remain engaged and trust your own smell-test capabilities. Some of the positions, speeches, or commentaries will initially smell wrong, but sit back and determine if, in fact, a new recipe is being used or was the milk spoiled beforehand?


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