Monday, November 3, 2014

Election Endorsements

After the last Kenner election, I discussed endorsements and how some groups are bought and paid for.  If you want to refresh your memory, here’s a link.

When I launched in September of 2006 (has it really been 8 years?), I vowed to never use the web site, and now blog, to endorse candidates. In addition, unlike other media outlets and blogs, we never accepted one dollar in advertising from anyone running for office.

In not endorsing individuals or accepting advertising, my thinking was we could provide information. 

Of course, I also gave my opinions but, if you read this regularly and/or you’re semi-intelligent, you already know my basic political philosophy: Less Government, both in size and in regulation.

And, while I encourage everyone to exercise their fundamental right to vote, I also firmly believe if you need a newspaper, blogger or radio or TV personality to tell you how to vote – you should just stay home.

So, despite the freedom of not having anyone in my ear telling me “You need to endorse this guy and you’ll get paid” or “You can’t say or write that because it will cost us money”, I’ve still refrained from using as a platform to endorse candidates.

In addition, while I may be completely off base in this, I have faith (although that faith has been shaken on several occasions) in you, the voter, to see through the trees and vote in honest people.

Sometimes that faith has been tested and sometimes, despite my own personal dealings with folks who I believe are honest, those same people turn their backs on the very people who got them elected in the first place.

You see, once you’re elected, you get a whole new group of friends. Powerful friends. Friends with lots of money who will give you their money so you can stay elected. And, of course, do their bidding.

When I ran for office, my girlfriend was adamantly opposed to it. Aside from the fact that she knew they (the “powers that be”) would drag me through the mud (they did – twice), she was distraught about what would happen to me if I was elected.

“You’ll change if you win. You’ve seen it firsthand with _____(names deleted),” she said.

“You know I won’t change,” I said.

Perhaps, luckily for us both, I didn’t win either time and her hypothesis was never tested.

Fake Endorsements

It’s always amazing to me the groups that come out of the woodwork to make endorsements because they think they can influence your vote and the candidates that are so desperate that they promote these fake endorsements.

In the past couple of weeks I’ve received mail pieces touting endorsements from the following groups:

…..East Jefferson Republican Voter League

…..The Committee For a Better Jefferson

…..Stand For Children

…..A group of several state legislators promoting primarily incumbent School Board candidates

…..A judge candidate who thinks that because Sheriff Newell Normand is endorsing him that alone qualifies him for office. I mean really, why would I vote for a judicial candidate that is supported by the Sheriff? Shouldn’t we want fair and impartial judges, not one who is beholden to the Sheriff?

I’ve also received mailers touting School Board members (again, endorsed by the Sheriff – really…when was the last time that Newell Normand attended a School Board meeting?), and many other fake groups.

And, where are the other fake groups like HISPAC - you know, the Hispanic Political Action Committee? I guess Hispanics only vote in Kenner Mayoral and City Council elections and not Federal, Judicial or School Board races. 

Who are these people?

Until I changed parties in April, I was a lifelong Republican who had run for office twice in East Jefferson Parish. I’ve never heard of the “East Jefferson Republican Voter League” yet their stamp of approval is supposed to mean something to me.

And, what has “The Committee For a Better Jefferson” ever done? Have they even volunteered to “Adopt a median” on any road in Jefferson Parish? Cleaning up a median a couple of times a year would actually be doing something to “better” Jefferson.

You need to look at all of these fake groups and politicians who try to influence you and their endorsements and toss them in the trash.

What Sheriff Newell Normand thinks about a judicial or school board candidate is his business. The fact that he’s arrogant enough to try to make it our business says more about his ego than his ability to judge candidates.

The Hate Filled Senate Race

This election cycle has seen more than its share of vitriol on all sides, especially the U.S. Senate race. 

Whether you support Mary Landireu, Bill Cassidy, Rob Maness, Brannon McMorris or another candidate, your feelings are pretty much etched in stone by this point and many of you are on Facebook, forums or emailing others to push your candidate and bash the others.

I’m embarrassed by the antics of many of these so-called “supporters”. You’d think that if their candidate doesn’t win that the world will end.

Trust me, no matter what the outcome, I fully expect (hope) that God allows me to wake up on Wednesday morning and that the sun will rise. In fact, it will probably be the early sunrise, along with a tap from the Almighty, that wakes me up.

Fortunately, I haven’t seen that bashing and negativity from those who are supporting other candidates like Libertarian Brannon McMorris,which is refreshing.

Now, to be honest and fair, I’ve never met Mary Landrieu. I’ve criticized her both here and on the radio for her voting record. And, in 18 years, I’m sure I could come up with a thing or two that she’s done in the U.S. Senate that I agree with. Unfortunately, one or two votes is not enough in 18 years. So, even though she never agreed to be interviewed by me on the radio (probably a smart thing for her), I don’t hate Mary Landrieu but, I can’t support her either.

I’ve met Dr. Bill Cassidy on a couple of occasions. We’re not friends by any stretch of the imagination but, he seemed like a nice guy. I was disappointed that he didn’t debate Landrieu and Maness more (and very disappointed that other candidates weren’t invited to debate at all). Do I wish his campaign focused more on him and less on Landrieu? No doubt, but I’m sure his people know what they’re doing. We’ll know soon enough.

I met Rob Maness in late 2012 before he decided to run for office. Later, he asked me, and I agreed, to be part of his original campaign team. Getting to know Rob on that level makes it difficult for me to understand the venom coming his way from many in the Republican Party. Rob is an intelligent, honorable man. 

Just as I don’t think Maness supporters should bash Cassidy, I also feel that it’s unjust for Cassidy supporters to attack Maness personally. I don’t think Rob deserves that. Is he causing Cassidy some discomfort? Sure, but he as much right to run for office as anyone else.

I’ve also been increasingly discouraged by the complete lack of media coverage for third party candidates. Perhaps it’s because I’m a Libertarian and not a part of the Democratic/Republican clubs anymore, but our Founding Fathers weren’t Democrats or Republicans either and I think we made it ok.

I, for one, would like to know more about Brannon McMorris and why he thinks he should be a U.S. Senator. I think it’s a shame on all of us that large media companies decide what your options are when it comes to something as important as an election.

Let’s be real here for a second: the Times-Picayune/ is owned by an out-of-state conglomerate owned by a Billionaire family; every commercial Television station in New Orleans is owned by out-of-state companies too, as is almost every radio station in the market.  The business newspaper? Yeah, that too is owned by an out-of-state company.

Even, which is supposed to be independent, is primarily funded by an out-of-state entity.

It’s absurd that all of these media outlets are controlled by companies not headquartered in Louisiana and yet they have so much influence, or perceived influence, on who you get to vote for and, ultimately, who gets elected.

Yeah, I know that they have local employees but those employees also know where their checks come from.

The Bottom Line

 The bottom line is that elections are important and so is your vote. It’s too important to let some out-of-state media conglomerate or another politician influence it. Do your homework. Decide who you think the most qualified candidate is. 9 times out of 10, it’s not the candidate with the most endorsements, the most signs, or the one who has sold his or her soul and raised the most money.

Voting is a right and, with all rights, comes a certain amount of personal responsibility.

People often say, “If you don’t vote, don’t complain”.

Well, if you give your vote to a candidate because a newspaper or an elected official tells you to, or because he has the most signs or television commercials, you’re doing something far worse than not voting.

You’re ignorantly voting.

And that hurts all of us.

Sorry if you thought I was going to tell you who to vote for.

Fortunately, I’m not as arrogant as Sheriff Normand and many other elected officials who think their stamp of approval means something.

The only endorsement that matters is who you believe will do the best job.

I trust you’ll do the right thing.