Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Maybe try standing for something?

Project Vote Smart is a non-profit organization that asks candidates and elected officials about their positions on issues and then posts the responses online, to enable people to vote intelligently. When Vote Smart sent its issue questionnaire to Iowa legislative candidates, a Democratic Minority Leader – thus presumably a member of the Iowa House, where Democrats are in the minority – responded, “I will not answer your questions and will be advising Iowa Democrats not to either.” Almost nobody answered the questionnaire.

When I sent a much smaller set of questions about education policy to Iowa legislative candidates, another House Democrat responded, “our candidates have been encouraged not to respond to these types of surveys. There are many reasons for this. Candidates often have comments taken out of context or they are used against them in campaign ads. People are often wary of these types of requests because the issues are complex and often take a great deal of time and thought to answer.” Almost nobody answered the questionnaire.

This morning, the Iowa Democrats are . . . still the House minority. On the morning after you lose, wouldn’t you rather not wonder whether it was because you refused to tell anyone your positions on issues they care about, and chose instead to run a vapid, content-free campaign?

UPDATE: I emailed Vote Smart to see which legislator actually said “I will not answer your questions and will be advising Iowa Democrats not to either.” It turns out it was a Democratic state representative named David Schrader, and that the quote is from some years ago, not from this session. Nonetheless, it’s clear from the other quote above (which was made directly to me this year) that the same message went out to this year’s Democratic candidates.

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