This week I was in Washington for, among other things, an event sponsored by the Annenberg Public Policy Center, “Fact Checking the 2012 Election: Views from the Trenches.” The three panels during this half-day event were drawn from the print media, the television news media, and from the television business and legal side.
The event was videotaped and should be available shortly on the factcheck.org website.
One panelist from the print media pointed out that the more complex an issue, for example health care, the easier it is distort the issue by reducing it to a sound bite or slogan. For me, this summed up my frustration, not just with the unlimited secret money that is currently promoting these distortions, but also with the fact that this type of campaigning is the rule not the exception in the history of our republic. The League is unique because it accepts that public issues are generally complex and deserve careful, nonpartisan consideration. “The League of Women Voters…has been willing to go ahead slowly in order to go ahead steadily. It has not sought to lead a few…a long way quickly, but rather to lead many…a little way at a time. It has held to the belief that no problem of democracy is really solved until it is solved for the average citizen…” (Maude Wood Park, Farewell Address, 1924)
Right now, from both sides, we are seeing a flood of money intended to lead a few people a long way quickly at the expense of a more deliberate process that would produce solutions for the average citizen. It is tempting to bypass the League’s normal deliberate approach because we ourselves are so outraged by the oversimplifications that the flood of money supports. However, Maude Wood Park’s wise counsel continues to guide us. The new radio ads we recently launched in Maine and Tennessee, urging Tennessee Senators Alexander and Corker and Maine Senators Collins and Snowe to work to stop secret money and support full disclosure, are prime examples of our approach.