Campaigning should avoid manipulating fear, prejudice

Letter to the Editor

Posted: Monday, November 11, 2002

I write to honor the Juneau-area candidates who campaigned so cleanly, and citizens who participated in the 50 percent voter turnout. Specifically, Juneau candidates' conduct was distinctly different from how the governor's race was conducted.

In that state-wide contest, highly paid outside public relations consultants had Fran and Frank manipulate the fears and prejudices of people to get votes. This is the election technique utilized most often nowadays because it is so economical. Education, and the engagement of citizen willingness to cooperate in groups to solve problems, costs way much more than just convincing people that leadership change is the only "practical" political option. Or, cheaper yet, there's cultivation of feelings of powerlessness over our government system. For example, just enough effortlessly obtained government subsidy or service is needed so individuals become addicted to it. Then many will covertly tolerate government dominance and neglect citizenship in favor of maintaining what they can get. Don't take my word for it! Look for yourself.

Fear of unfair influence over government by special interests and lobbyists, and prejudice against a governing philosophy, were the most common targets of mindset manipulation used in the Alaska election campaigns. Just view all the ads trying to portray who was really the incompetent puppet. Is this supposed to enhance citizen confidence in our form of government?

So I have some advice for our two Juneau area representatives and one senator. Before you give your constitutionally required oath to uphold the constitution, please study it so you can appreciate what your oath will mean.

At the very least, consider these pertinent constitutional instructions: 1) "The legislature shall regulate lobbying." (Article II Sect. 12) and 2) Subsequent to the enumeration of inherent rights: "... and that all persons have corresponding obligations to the people and to the state" (Article I Sect 1). Then consider 1) how the average Alaskan can be so provably worried about the unfair influence of special interests and lobbyists over government, and 2) why 50 percent of Alaskans didn't even vote as a minimum way to discharge their constitutional responsibilities.

So Bruce, Beth, and Kim - what do you say?

Stuart Thompson

Auke Bay

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