A Sober Look at Campaign Tactics

The following letter is shared with us by the author Michael Chambers. Mr. Chambers is a member of the Charlestown Zoning Board.

Most people are aware of the tactics that campaign managers and strategic researchers use to convince the voter that their candidate is the best choice for the job. After reading this sentence and referencing the political tenor in Charlestown, I would change this introductory sentence to read: Most people are aware of the negative tactics that campaign managers and strategic researchers use to convince the voter that the opposition’s candidate is a lying, cheating, out-of-control, imbecilic drudge that should not have graduated from high school much less run for public office. These Knights of the Keyboard, as Ted Williams referred to them, seem to underestimate the intelligence of their readers and think the more outrageous the claim, the more acceptable it is to the reader. I don’t have to name names because in Charlestown people know who the charlatans are, if the results of the last two local elections are any indication.

Here are a few touch points that the reader can use to separate the believable from the unbelievable. First: any time someone claims that another person tells lies but does not identify the specific lies and the context, it is best to question the writer. Be specific, that’s the key. Second: anytime wrongdoing is ascribed to a general group of people, make the writer be more specific by identifying the individual and the specific wrong. Third: separate fact from opinion. Often strategic researchers express opinions as facts. They are not the same thing. Fourth: If there are conflicting stories, ask someone you trust who knows the facts to explain their take on the issue. Fifth: watch for global characterizations because they are misleading and usually do not apply.

The bottom line is to look for specific information (who, what, when, where, how) but not why because that question usually is answered with speculation. Don’t accept what you read simply because it is written down; disinformation is transmitted not only by speech but also through the written word. Look for achievements not complaints. Look at what the candidates have accomplished in their lives, not what they say they will accomplish if given the chance. Let’s face it; each and every one of us has had opportunities to volunteer to serve Charlestown. Some people grasp the opportunity, some people are satisfied to let others volunteer and some others just complain about volunteers. Research the issues and ask the candidates what their solutions are. If the candidates come to your door, let them know your concerns and definitely ask questions.