Know Your Audience

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

What Happened to the CDTC last November?

There are two truisms that govern the success of making public presentations and public pronouncements – know your subject matter and know your audience.

These seem quite elementary, especially when giving a paper at a conference, developing an editorial, running an election, or just discussing issues of the day. Six months ago, the Charlestown Democratic Town Committee (CDTC) forgot this simple concept and not only ruined any chance they had of seating at least one of their local candidates, but they lost valuable membership in the process. Know your subject matter doesn’t mean that you can bend the truth or lie outright and have people overlook it. Know your audience was not only overlooked by the strategic researchers of the CDTC, the audience was denigrated by the sheer hubris of the candidates and their handlers.

How do you expect to win when you alienate whole neighborhoods with Washington-based rhetoric, when you refer to local residents as Swamp Yankees, when you distort the truth to make a point and that distortion is quite evident to all the voters, and when you blatantly lie about the opposition? That is a recipe for failure and the local Democrats proved that in spades. Unfortunately, you can fool some of the people all of the time and these people continue to serve on the CDTC steering committee. You can also fool some of the people some of the time and many of these people have moved out of the CDTC. But what gives the residents of Charlestown the most hope is that you can’t fool all of the people all of the time.

I once sent a complaint to the Progressive Blog, when Tom Ferrio was filling in as editor, regarding his use of the word “pogrom” in describing an action of the Town Council. I feel that word was wrong and does an injustice to all who suffered under Eastern European pogroms. I ended the complaint with a quote from Immanuel Kant intended to convey the idea that in a small town many people know you and what you stand for. The quote, “the nice part about living in a small town is that when you don’t know what you’re doing, someone else does,” shows up on their blog as something to remember. Unfortunately, the bloggers either don’t pay attention to Kant or think that they can fool all the people all the time.

I am sure the CDTC or other local Democrats will continue to attempt to fool the taxpayers of this town into trusting them, but, as I have said often, ask the hard questions. The people of Charlestown did exactly that last November and have benefited from it greatly.