We are 5 days and counting to the primary elections here. It's a good thing, too, because much more campaign literature and I will have to move out of my house. As it is, my small mailbox is stuffed every day.
These are not little informational brochures, with black text on pastel colored newsprint. They are full color glossy card stock. And I am a little offended by them.
I like to think of myself as a true patriot. I love the democratic process, even when it's messy. I like to think that being a child of the war-protest era engendered a particularly poignant and intense love of this country and this system. I can even appreciate the candidates' effort to make me informed and I am active in the process. I just think there needs to be a better way to go about this.
Campaign literature falls short for me on several counts. First, it is too brief to be useful. If you really want me to be informed, refer me to your website and impartial sources where I can get a better picture of you. It's okay to give me short salient points. I am pretty sure you are only giving me the best stuff, and I am not sure that is helpful when forming an opinion about you. But also know that I want (and will seek) more, shall we say, balanced information.
Second, I am not sure I need to see your picture. If the ballot had your picture, I could see the marketing aspect of this. But the fact that you are attractive or ugly, fat or thin, young or old does not mean anything to me. Save the space for more of the relevant issues.
Third, let's at least try not to kill the environment with your excessive mailings - I have received at least three from some candidates. In this same vein, don't give me slick and glossy - it makes you look like you're trying too hard. And you know that those inks and finishes are going into a landfill sooner or later. Very often sooner. Conservative is better - recycled paper, single process ink, preferably soy based or organic. No gloss: it makes me not trust you.
Don't overstate your case. Calmly and briefly tell me what you WILL do and if there is any chance you can't do it and are just fishing for my vote, don't bother writing it down. I want substance - what have you done that may be of interest overall? I don't care that you put that new flower bed in at the courthouse. Especially if there are homeless people living in the underpass down the road.
Don't assume because I am registered in your party that I a) feel obliged to vote for you, b) agree with the party's platform, or c) need you to think for me or make decisions on issues for me in this election. If this makes me suspect to the "party faithful," tough.
I had a few local candidates come to my door. I actually like that process, especially if candidates are willing to answer a few questions while they are there. I know the issues and can ask some tough questions, so staying to chat will at least tell me you are brave. It will not guarantee you my vote, since I know that somewhere in the city all the other candidates are stumping too. Anyone who isn't certainly won't get my vote. If you can't put forth the effort to meet your constituency face-to-face, or if you cannot arrange your life in such a way to find out what your district needs, don't run. Don't think sending me a postcard is enough.
In summary, if you must contact me by mail be environmentally responsible. Don't lie. Don't assume I am a sheep. Don't bother with glitz and hold the photos of yourself (and your family - I will assume somebody loves you, and that will save us both time). Give me straight facts, because I will know - don't make me catch you being insincere. Oh, yeah - and if you're using your franking privilege to campaign, shame, shame on you.
Okay, so impress me. I'm waiting.