Tag Archives: Elections

You know who ELSE hated apostrophes?

Back on the subject of political ads and the attempt to influence my vote.

It’s really tough to assimilate every last nuance of every candidate and party’s platform and make a fully-informed choice on Election Day. Over time, though, you come up with some shortcuts that seem to work out well for you.

One of my most valuable little rules:

Political parties and movements that discourage the use of contractions are usually bad news.

Allow me to illustrate.

“Congress hasn’t been listening. We’ve been ignored and dismissed. Our voices will be heard on November 2nd.”

OK, if that’s the opening line in a blog post, I’m definitely bored by this timeless bit of campaign rhetoric but I’ll soldier on and keep reading to see what your actual point is. But if the same line is written as

“Congress has not been listening. We have been ignored and dismissed. Our voices will be heard on November 2nd.”

…Then I’m pretty sure you’re just into this elections for the costumes and the free balloons.

Contractions. They’re your friends. It’s how normal people talk when they’re saying something very sensible. You can omit them for a certain effect but do it sparingly.

And why not pull the eagle-topped flagpole out of your butt completely? How about:

“I feel as though the incumbent has let me down. I’m going to vote for a candidate who seems more aware of my difficulties.”

See what I mean? You get nowhere by assuming a d-baggey posture. Some sites amp up their No Contractions politics even further:

“We shall raise our voices high, strong and fearlessly, for we know that…”

They go full-out, replacing “will” with “shall,” “for” instead of “because,” and forgetting that they’re just one of tens of millions of people who are stopping off on the way to or from work on Tuesday to fill out a form in a high school gymnasium. This isn’t exactly the first twelve minutes of “Saving Private Ryan.” The worst thing they’ll face is a folding table with kids selling cupcakes to help fund a class trip.

When you use that of language, I start to worry that you’re just one beer hall away from having your own special armbands.

No political party has an immunity against this particular disease. It’s universal and it’s a common Human failing. Some people will go out there and get the job done. Others hope to do it from the top of a marble plinth in the middle of the town square…ideally, while on top of a horse.

I shall not allow these people to influence my vote. For, come election day, I cannot aver my duty; nor as I pass by that American flag shall I be unmoved from my responsibility, irregardless of those arrayed against the Cause: I shall hold my head high, raise my Scantronic pencil high as unto a god calling forth the full fury of lightning…and then I’ll probably vote for the candidates with the funniest names.

Blessings God has, upon America, Him given.

Dumbest political attack ad I’ve seen

…For this fall set of New England elections, anyway. It’s paid for by the campaign of Elizabeth Roberts, who for some damned reason is eager to be Lieutenant Governor of…well, does the actual state matter? Emperor Norton wielded more authority than any sitting Lieutenant Governor.

The point of this ad seems to be “My opponent has a real scary beard. You know who else has a real scary beard? Do I actually have to say it? Really?”

It’s funny enough that the damnable accusation she makes is that “Robert Healey, if elected, has no plans to kill the sitting Governor and then enact his own plan to singlehandedly create jobs for the State of Rhode Island.”

But the best bit is the reason why he plans to do nothing if elected: he’s running on a platform of “The office of Lieutenant Governor does absolutely nothing for the people of the state and should be reduced to little more than a standby title, saving taxpayers a million dollars a year.” He promises, if elected, to accept no salary and hire no staff.

From a recent Providence Journal piece about Healey:

That Quest Research poll showed incumbent Roberts at 48 percent to Healey’s 43 percent, with 9 percent undecided.

“She thought she was going to have a cakewalk, and now she has a race,” Healey said of Roberts during a recent interview.

Over breakfast of French fries and coffee at Rod’s Grill in his hometown of Warren, Healey groused that the lieutenant governor’s office “is all pet projects that you make up yourself. People use it to push their [way to] higher elective office.”

During a recent Channel 10 political roundtable with Roberts and Venturini, Healey discounted Roberts’accomplishments and said, “It’s all talk, talk, talk. The office has no power.”

If elected, Healey said he will work for free, fire the staff, suspend his legal practice and resign as president of his Zultan Corporation. He said he’s ready to serve as governor if required.

I have instantly gone from having no idea who Elizabeth Roberts and Robert Healey are to predicting that the former will be selling real estate in ten years’ time and that in a hundred years the latter will be on a commemorative postage stamp.

I’m not one of these “the best government is no government” types but Healey plugs into an instinctive logic that appeals to voters: for God’s sake, don’t elect people who are at all eager to be in a position of power. It’s OK if they see power as a necessary tool for getting things done and improving the lives of your fellow citizens. But anybody willing to go this far to become — again, the phrase “Oh, for God’s sake” comes to mind — a lieutenant governor should probably be kept away from the liquor cabinet.

Plus: though I do personally think that a city mayor, a governor, and the President should be active, hands-on officials (I understand if they want to take an occasional afternoon off for their kids’ soccer games but otherwise, I expect them in the office at least five days a week), I think it’s up to Roberts to explain why the Lieutenant Governor’s office is important. Why should she need more than a $100 month state-paid cellphone contract? Here’s your special phone: if the Governor pops his clogs or suddenly realizes how much more money he could be making on the corporate lecture circuit, we’ll call you. We’ll even throw in a car charger.

Actually, let’s kite the Lieutenant Governor’s budget up to $500 a month. It’ll cover gas money. She should drive up to the state capital once a week and take a regular meeting on how things are going. And maybe refresh herself on how the Governor’s Office phone system works. If the head of the state government is killed in a North Korean missile attack, we don’t want the new acting Governor to waste time asking people if she needs to dial “9” first before calling FEMA and the Army guys.

My reaction to this political ad kind of underscores my lifelong relationship with commercials. The best an advertiser can ever hope to accomplish is to communicate to me that their product or service exists. The only way an ad has ever actually influenced my decisions in any way has been to convince me to stay as far as way from the thing as humanly possible.

I mean, for all I know, Roberts is a fine public servant. But jeez, a campaign slogan of “my opponent has a scary beard” won’t win the hearts and minds of sensible men and women.