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Advertise on the Tentacle

July 13, 2010

Admonitions for Candidates

Farrell Keough

The term “smoke-filled room” is generally attributed to the election of Warren G. Harding, our 29th President of the United States. President Harding was generally considered one of our worst Presidents due to the many instances of graft within his administration.


Since that time, the term has become one of our political idioms – generally referring to political deals made without public input or attention to public desires. In short, it evokes an image of powerful people sitting around a table and determining a course of action which will affect you and me, but without any interest in our desires or needs.


Today’s political climate will not abide these kinds of actions. The public has become far too engaged. Both the advent of movements like the Tea Party and the instantaneous information from radio, television, and the Internet do not allow these actions to proceed unnoticed.


For instance: a situation taking place within the Maryland Republican Committee that has come to light. This Letter to the Editor explains the situation.


Most of you reading this column are doing so via an Internet connection, hence the process of clicking on hyperlinks is both simple and common. In fact, it has become so common that we often do not even consider it when reading Internet based material. We have the choice – we can determine we have enough information or we can learn more by clicking on a hyperlink.


This choice is very often overlooked, especially by those who want our support during election cycles. But, I am getting ahead of myself.


The Internet has become so commonplace most of us have our specific sites we visit everyday – check our email, read a local, national, or international news site, listen to a radio program, or any myriad of other websites. In fact, we are so bombarded with information that we now have spam filters for our emails. Yet we do glance at many of the emails we receive even if the information turns out to be something that does not interest us. In short, we often click on hyperlinks because we have an interest in the general topic.


Consider this – you are reading this column. It is highly unlikely you will ever see a cooking recipe printed here. You are reading this because the political bug has bitten you. You clicked on the hyperlink because you have come to accept that the likelihood is high that pertinent and interesting information will be revealed. On sites you trust, this is a good thing and a mechanism to share what people desire.


This is where the rubber meets the road – when someone offers you information, if it is poorly laid out, you will probably not return to that site. They have lost your trust. This is very common with political websites and emails! There is either way too much information to readily scan or there is such a dearth of specifics your time is wasted.


Candidates running for office take note – do not lose our trust or interest. When we visit your websites, we know you will have hyperlinks to tell us about yourself, to tell us about the issues, to show us press releases, to show us events, and of course, a mechanism to donate.


Write your bullets for your issues, but give us a hyperlink for more information!  If we read pabulum like “I’m for lower taxes,” you will quickly lose our trust. You need to outline some of the ways you can accomplish this task and give us choice to read more about those aspects which interest us – in short, use hyperlinks to present more of your platform and information.


When we get your emails, keep them to one or two topics and add a hyperlink for those issues which spark our interest. This way you can present us with bullets rather than a long article or position paper. And don’t send us daily emails, but do keep informing us of your events and positions.


We live in an age of computers. We are used to looking at websites and getting emails. We are savvy consumers of information and will know when we are being bamboozled. Do not lose our trust. We understand if a position is changed or if new information needs to be presented. But we do not understand if you don’t know the issues or if the presentation of your platform is empty or filled with platitudes.


Of course, some will rely on the coattails of others to promote them through an election, the reliance on backroom deals, or masses of money. But in this era of Internet searches and 24/7 media availability, attempts to rely on the “smoke filled rooms” will soon be discovered.


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