METHODS AND TACTICS, page 2:
As described on the prior page, this is the first draft of a proposal for creating, in any state, an organization that may become strong enough, and persuasive enough, to begin helping to swing elections in the direction of candidates who will do more to actually help solve problems (rather than cynically exploiting them, to try to get re-elected), and to actually help the middle class (rather than merely promising to do so, and then quietly doing whatever some candidate’s campaign contributors want him to do).
If you have not yet read the prior page, you should, because it builds a foundation, and sets the stage, for this page. You cannot adequately understand the steps below, unless you have read the prior page.
Okay . . . with that as preface, here is the step-by-step recipe:
1. Every even-numbered year – when the entire U.S. House of Representatives, and a third of the U.S. Senate, is up for election – any statewide organization that is cooperating (or even just `aligned’) with the goals of The Two-Party Party, should form “interview committees” (or task forces, or any other name the members prefer). Assume that, in some particular state, somewhere between 10 to 20 races will deserve attention, during that election cycle; this might include, for example, all Congressional Representatives, one of that state’s two U.S. Senators, several statewide races (such as Governor, Attorney General, etc.), mayoral races in large cities, and possibly a few State Senate or House races that seem important. Several different “interview committees” may need to be formed, in any state; if so, they will need to agree, among themselves, about which races each committee will be assigned to monitor and interact with. In addition, an interview committee should be created or each and every Congressional district, in any state; no serious candidate for Congress will willingly agree to cooperate with a review committee made of people who don’t even live in his/her district.
These interview committees will play a crucial role, so they need to be formed in ways that can inspire trust, or at least some level of respect. Page 4 in this section discusses factors that should be taken into account as those committees are being formed, and as potential members are being considered.
2. The goal is to create committees – note the plural of that word; no one committee should try to do all of this work, for all 10 to 20 races that are being evaluated, in any particular state – which will spend enough actual time, in person, with EACH AND BOTH of the two main-party candidates, in each race that will be included in an “endorsement slate” in that state – to develop a well-informed assessment of which candidate is the better candidate, in each race, based on criteria such as listed below. As a general presumption, direct “face time” with EACH candidate should total up to about 6 hours, and should be in at least 3 different types of “settings”, such as, for example:
(i) a private conference with the candidate, plus his/her campaign manager and any other staffers the candidate wants to include;
(ii) a lunch or dinner, preferably at a private home or in a closed-off room at a restaurant, so that it will be quiet enough for everyone to hear anyone who is speaking;
(iii) a small gathering after a campaign event where the candidate gave a speech, and had to answer at least one or two questions;
(iv) riding in a car (or on a campaign bus, etc.) with the candidate.
None of those gatherings have to be strictly limited to the candidate plus selected people from his/her staff.
Any interview committee should recognize and simply accept, in advance, that any INCUMBENT WHO IS RUNNING FOR
RE-ELECTION will have major built-in advantages, in any race, and therefore, usually will not want to take any unnecessary risks, by agreeing to be interviewed at length by some committee which will then issue a candid assessment of him/her. Accordingly, if they meet reluctance, resistance, or an effort to craft elaborate requirements that could be used to thwart a negative evaluation, an interview committee can use any accommodation, “work-around”, or stratagem that the committee members (collectively, and with additional supervision and input by the statewide organization) believe might be helpful. As one example, an interview committee might try to combine their request for a meeting, with a request by a separate and independent reporter or journalist for an interview which will lead to a story about the candidate. Candidates love the free publicity of stories and articles written about them, so they are inclined to grant such interviews. The committee might learn some interesting and useful things, by listening whatever questions the reporter or journalist chooses to ask; and, the reporter or journalist might come away from that gathering, with a better understanding of (and, hopefully, appreciation for) what the interview committee is doing, and how, and why.
Similarly, the statewide organization can consider sponsoring and moderating a debate between the candidates in some particular race, at a university, or a large church with a good auditorium. Most candidates will take any opportunity to address any crowd of more than a few dozen people, especially if they know some reporters and cameras will be there, so long as it is in a friendly (or at least neutral) environment. If all of the members of an interview committee are seated behind a wide table (in the center of the stage) that divides the two candidates, and if the committee members will allocate the best questions between them (so that every member gets to ask some good questions), they may be able to create a good, balanced, and fair impression, among the audience. If that happens, and is witnessed by both candidates (and especially if that debate – with balanced, even-handed, and fair questions coming from all of the committee members – gets a good write-up by one or more reporters who saw the whole thing), both candidates likely will become more inclined to agree to one-at-a-time meetings with that committee, where they can talk privately, without an audience.
LEARNING ABOUT – BUT NOT USING – UNPLEASANT INFORMATION
This is merely a first draft of an effort to address a difficult subject. It is raised, because anyone who has been involved in politics will realize that any interviewing committee might – just might – find itself in a position where it must decide how to inquire into, and how to use the results of, offers or hints of information which might raise questions and doubts about the character and/or judgment of some candidate in a race. Like it or not, it happens. Stated in other words, if this proposal does not show at least some awareness that this might happen, in some races that interview committees are analyzing, then this proposal could be attacked and/or dismissed for being woefully naïve, and unprepared. And, so . . .
Any and all members of any interviewing committee should be warned, in advance, that someone might blurt out some private and personal secret about a candidate, or might dangle a tantalizing hint (which might be bait, on a fishhook) in front of an interviewer. So, any such committee, and all of its members, should discuss these types of possibilities, before any member can be put into a position where they might have to deal with such a situation. And, the entire committee should agree (or at least reach a collective understanding), in advance, on how any member who receives such information (or offer, or hint) should respond to it.
A starting presumption I would suggest, is this: unless some sequence or pattern of missteps and mistakes indicate a need for limitations and restrictions of some sort, any committee – and/or, any member of any such committee – will be free to seek out, and talk in confidence with, anyone who might be able to help them do the committee’s assigned task in better – and better-informed – ways. As just one example, unless some factor strongly suggests otherwise, any one or more members of an interviewing committee can make a proposal, to the entire committee, that they would like to contact such-and-such a person, or group of people, in a small group, without the entire committee there. It often happens that some insider has some good, useful, and directly relevant information, and might be willing to share it, but only with one or two “simpatico” people; and, he or she would be unlikely to be candid and fully honest, if six people – including one or two he does not know, and has no reason to trust – are staring at him in some sort of meeting.
Presumably, any such request or inquiry should be made to all of the members of the committee; however, in some circumstances (such as, if disputes have arisen between two or more people on an interview committee), it might be advisable for the person proposing a smaller meeting, to discuss it only with the chairperson (or co-chair-persons) and/or the statewide organization, and let those other people help choose the best path forward.
The natural instinct of any serious contender for an important office is to be cautious, cagey, controlled, and controlling, when answering questions from someone who might then turn around and damage his/her chances of winning that election. Therefore, the members of any interview committee need enough leeway and flexibility to enable them to gather whatever information they believe will enable the committee, as a whole, to reach the best-informed decision the committee can make, on which candidate to endorse, in any race which that interview committee is analyzing.
However, for that very same reason, every member of any such committee should make – and should be fully and completely willing to voluntarily make, without qualms or reservations – a commitment that whatever they might learn, will be used solely and strictly for the purpose of making a well-informed, well-reasoned, and well-supported decision, on which candidate to endorse in any such race. It is emphatically NOT the task, and it absolutely must NOT become a secretive goal of ANY such committee (or committee member), to begin dabbling into (or, upon learning something untoward, to go digging deeper into) the private personal lives and secrets of candidates for political office. EVERYONE has made mistakes, and EVERYONE has secrets; we know that, and we are not trying to find some new way to prove it, yet again; and, every member of any interviewing committee should have enough experience, maturity, judgment, and mistakes of his/her own, to know that one of the best ways to learn better judgment, and acquire more motivation, is by learning from mistakes. A classic example (which could become `a teaching moment’) was set forth in a novel which most young people today have never even heard of: The Red Badge of Courage. It was about a soldier who fled from a battle, in an act of cowardice and desertion. He then began to feel so much shame and guilt, from knowing what he had done, that he vowed he would never do that again. He joined up with a new group of soldiers who didn’t know what he had done, and with them, he bucked up enough courage and fortitude to become one of the bravest and best soldiers in that new group. So . . . if anyone needs a good example or role model, to help them figure out what to do after they have made a serious and possibly terrible mistake, reading that novel, and discussing it with others, might be able to help that person regain their bearings, and choose the best path forward, from wherever they are.
There are NO perfect candidates, and NO perfect people. All of us know that, already. So, in complete seriousness, the ONLY goals of The Two-Party Party can be summarized as follows:
(i) to help voters figure out which candidate is the better candidate, out of the two main-party nominees in any particular race, when evaluated based on standards and guidelines that have been openly disclosed and published; and,
(ii) to establish a level of sufficient respect, among voters, that we can “persuade and motivate” BOTH of the two main parties to select nominees, for any important elected office, who can and will appeal to “moderate” voters (defined as: voters who want any officials they elect, to talk with, listen to, and be willing to negotiate in good faith with, moderates from the other party, as part of the collective obligation that ALL “public servants” should be subject to, to actually solve at least some of the problems that are threatening and endangering America).
ANY use, of ANY private information, about ANY candidate, which does not fall SQUARELY, DIRECTLY, AND DEFENSIBLY within BOTH of the two goals described above, will undercut, damage, and raise the most serious doubts about – and will trigger highly aggressive attacks against – everything The Two-Party Party hopes to accomplish, as it sets out on a difficult and challenging attempt to do something that has never been done before.
GIVING CANDIDATES A CHOICE RE: PRIVACY RE: THEIR EARLY LIFE
Another suggestion may also be able to help, and merits at least some discussion, among any state organization and/or interview committee. Indeed, the Two-Party Party (of Missouri) would like to openly propose it as a generally good idea, for all political races, at all levels.
Given the fact that one of the best ways to learn (and to truly internalize) important lessons is by learning from mistakes, any interview committee (or state organization) should ask each and every candidate to choose either of two options, as `boundary lines’ that any state organization, and any interviewing committee, can and will respect. Any candidate can be invited and encouraged to choose either one, written as a public statement (or as a letter to a committee), using the following at a starting point which any candidate can modify, to suit his/her tastes, preferences, and personal situation:
OPTION 1: “I do not claim or pretend to be a perfect Christian, or to be Christ-like. Instead, I can only look toward the examples and teachings of Christ, and try to learn what I can, both from what Christ said, and from what Christ did, with his life. And, I find it very interesting that the Bible says, and we know, almost nothing about the first 30 years of Christ’s life, and about what Christ did, or may have done, during those first thirty years of his life. So, I have become interested in the suggestion that perhaps he may have been actually trying to show us, and teach us, something, by that simple fact of his life. I have reached a point, in my life, where I do not and will not hold, against anyone, any mistake that he or she might have made, before the age of thirty. I am entirely willing to simply accept, about any candidate, for any office, that the first thirty years of that person’s life were a good time to grow up, to make some mistakes, and to learn from those mistakes. And, I would encourage any and all voters to do the same. We may be keeping some truly good people from going into politics, even though their talents and accumulated experiences, insights, and judgment might be able to do some genuine good, in public service. And I don’t want to do that. So, I hereby declare, about myself, and about any opponent I may run against, that I do not want to have to try to explain and justify any mistakes I may have made, before I turned thirty years old. And, I will not ask any questions, of any sort, about what my opponent might have done, before reaching the age of thirty. Since that boundary line is inspired by the Bible, and by what we know and don’t know about Jesus, that is good enough for me. I hereby throw in my lot, my commitment, and my allegiance, with that goal, and that ideal.”
OPTION 2: “My life can be divided into two main parts: BEFORE I met my [wife/husband/partner], and AFTER I met my [wife/husband/partner].” [After that beginning, the candidate should add whatever s/he chooses, to tell more about himself/herself, and about his/her spouse, and their relationship, and how they make it work.] The implicit statement: “Please don’t ask me about stuff I did, before I met my spouse/partner. Because my life changed, so much, and for very good reasons, starting at that point. Ask me about what I’ve done, since then.”
The NEXT page discusses what can/should happen, AFTER all of the interview committees in some particular state have submitted their evaluations, and proposed endorsements, to the statewide organization.