The Proof is in the Posting

Guest Post by Michael Chambers (guest posts are moderated, but not approved or endorsed by the CCA Steering Committee)

Now that the candidates for public office in Charlestown have been identified, Campaign 2014 has officially begun. As usual, I visited the Charlestown Democratic Town Committee’s website to see what issues the CDTC considers to be important to the town. As happened during the last election, I was premature in trying to understand their new platform because there was no new platform yet. I can wait. The last time I travelled this road, the CDTC members emphasized that it takes time for them to come to consensus on the issues and how to handle them. During the last election period, the CDTC waited until after the Democratic National Convention to get their direction from the DNC policy wonks. So I’ll wait until at least Labor Day.

What I don’t understand is how national policy directs the CDTC in discussing local issues. So I decided to take a look at their postings over the past 18 months to see what the CDTC steering committee considered important enough to publicize on their website. I started my search with the CDTC’s new website design that looks so similar to the infamous blog site that it could have been designed by the same designer. Anyway, the new website was the result of a CDTC claim that someone hacked their site, but there was no follow up to determine the culprit. So I had to start in January 2013 and ended in June 2014. During that time there were 75 postings.

I broke down the postings into national level issues, state politics, local politics, local issues, and non-specific or other postings. Almost half (44%) of the postings dealt with national political issues, including attacking the Republican Party and promoting the Obama Administration’s policies. The next grouping -State level issues – accounted for almost a quarter (24%) of the CDTC postings. Emphasis in this group was to promote Democrats and attack all other politicians at the State level. The next grouping is local, but I divided this group into two subgroups: (1) promoting local politicians, specifically Donna Walsh and Kathy “Cool” Rumsey, and (2) discussing and promoting local issues. The total local grouping makes up 27% of the postings – 19% for promotions and 8% for issue discussion. Other postings included Holiday Greetings and Thanksgiving Wishes and account for 5% of the postings.

According to author J.K. Parker, “In politics, it’s what isn’t said that matters. What isn’t said on the CDTC website is that Charlestown matters. I wasn’t surprised by the results, the rankings, or the distribution of the topics. However, I think many residents of Charlestown would find it interesting that the CDTC, who profess to care about this town, devoted only six of their 75 postings to local issues. These six include two postings on the LeBlanc property and two on the COPAR issue. Senator Whitehouse alone got more attention than did Charlestown. Based on this array, I don’t think the people of Charlestown occupy much of the CDTC’s attention throughout the year.