05 August 2010

Two Levels of Free Advertising for Independents

An independent political candidate and his or her friends should never sneer at any opportunity to get their message out to groups of people. A new candidate or new party may not be able to buy TV or radio time, and may not even be able to afford print advertising, but it costs nothing to get a letter printed on an editorial page that will be read by thousands of people, in print and online. To complain that the number of readers is far smaller than the audience for a TV ad is, if you'll excuse the comparison, like Osama bin Laden not wanting to commit terrorism in America, as some have speculated, unless it can be on a World Trade Center scale of spectacle. In either case, the lesson is that insisting on the maximum audience or nothing usually means nothing.

That's why I want to give people like Francis Flynn credit for initiative regardless of the parties or causes they espouse. Flynn put a letter in yesterday's Troy Record promoting the Libertarian gubernatorial candidacy of Warren Redlich. He challenges a local pundit's presumption that Democrat Andrew Cuomo's election is inevitable.

While Democrat Cuomo has done a superb job as Attorney General, his taking a stance as an outsider in Albany politics rings hollow. If people want real change in how government works in New York state, it's time for radical thinking and voting for a third party with fresh ideas and owing no favors to lobbyists. The current minor parties on the ballot [Conservatives, Working Families, etc.] are basically extensions of the two major parties to whom they are subservient.

The Libertarians, who have to earn a spot on the state ballot through a petition drive, claim to be genuine independents because they don't cross-endorse or allow Democrats or Republicans to claim their nominations. Flynn offers Redlich and the Libertarians as an authentic non-Bipolarchic alternative to politics as usual, claiming that his candidate has "fresh taxpayer-friendly ideas while not being indebted to any special interest groups."

Newspaper readers can answer Flynn by writing letters themselves or, in the case of The Record, calling the paper's Sound Off phone line. Thanks to the internet, meanwhile, instant responses are possible on the paper's web page, and a supporter of Green Party gubernatorial candidate Howie Hawkins has taken advantage of that free opportunity to answer Flynn's claims on behalf of Redlich. "Clay" writes:

New Yorkers should look outside the mainstream when casting their votes this fall. I even called the Troy Record newsroom just prior to the Libertarian Party's convention in the hopes that they would cover the event. That being said, and with absolute respect for Mr. Redlich, I do not believe his Libertarian program will be an effective instrument for the conduct of New York State Government. Yes, there are some overpaid State employees. But in focusing his efforts soley [sic] on a call for cutting government spending I think Mr. Redlich would blind us to the fact that sometimes regulation, and even taxation, can be a good thing.

Clay wants a governor who "believes in government, ... who wants to come up with real creative ideas to use our many resources in a responsible manner to make the state better." Without detailing Hawkins's platform, Clay recommends the Green candidate to those who believe that "our government can do good things and that it will do good things, and in an efficient manner, if we place a candidate in the executive chamber who has innovative programs which stop the privaledged [sic] few from robbing from making life difficult for the rest of us." Like Flynn for Redlich, Clay urges anyone interested in Hawkins to Google his name for more information.

Ideally, Clay or another Green will carry this message over into print, since there are still many newspaper readers who'll never look at the paper's web site. Ideally also, Greens and Libertarians will not feel as if Clay and Flynn have done their work for them. It could well be that, the more people write to papers and their webpages on behalf of independent candidates, the more readers will assume that independents have more support than they assumed. It can't hurt, to say the least, and it costs nothing. For that reason alone, letter writing may be the most cost-effective way to spread the word about independent candidates. It's a strategy any independent party can and should try. We ought to be able to judge the enthusiasm and commitment of independents by the volume of letters they get published, though papers' policies on partisan letters may vary. At the least, we should be able to ask unsuccessful independents how many letters their supporters wrote for them, and an unsatisfactory number should leave us questioning whether candidates have really done all that they could to win.


Anonymous said...

Why "Tax Breaks" Won't Work

The assumption made by those on the right regarding giving corporations big tax breaks is that those corporations will then do more business, so though paying a lower tax rate, higher revenue streams will generate more taxes. The problem is that most corporations will simply pocket the savings. This has been shown time and time again. Then they simply tell the politicos "We need a bigger tax incentive". So it goes, round and round.

Tax breaks are good only for those they benefit and that does not include the working class/consumer, who's taxes are raised to make up for the tax revenue lost by giving corporations tax breaks in the first place.

Since it is the massive base of consumers who, arguably, spend the most money, thereby keeping the economy "circulating", why should they be punished and made to pay higher taxes? No, the correct and logical thing to do is (to paraphrase capitalists) tax corporations to the amount that the "market will bear". If they whine, let them know that that is the price for being allowed access to the American consumer. Better that profit than no profit at all.

Samuel Wilson said...

Apart from your point, I find it hard to believe that businesses somehow have great products or ideas for products that they want to produce and sell, but are held back at this time only by allegedly high taxes. If this were the case, tax breaks might work the way their advocates claim, or as they reportedly worked when JFK cut taxes during the prosperous 1960s. It's more likely in most cases today that they'll work the way you predict.

Albany Lawyer said...

In line with your point about Flynn, and the reference to the Greens, you might note that I wrote a letter to our larger regional newspaper about how their coverage tended to exclude minor candidates. I specifically mentioned the Green Party candidate.
Redlich letter to Times Union