To the Point for 9/28/06


WITH ELECTION DAY now about six weeks away, things are heating up all around the area.

Signs are being posted in yards by local, state, and national candidates. Hopefuls are beginning to knock on doors. At higher levels, commercials are beginning to appear.

It’s election time.

A few weeks ago I ran a column which commented on Ninth District Congressional candidates Mike Sodrel and Baron Hill. Both men had pledged at that time to run a “clean campaign”, with no mud slinging or negative ads on the part of each.

Here, we find the fine line of politics.

Neither is running a dirty campaign, but both have all sorts of different groups that are more than willing to point out the weaknesses of the other.

During an average day, I receive anywhere from 6-20 emails, all from different organizations – all wanting me to tell YOU just how big a scoundrel the opponent is.

The “Friends of Mike Sodrel” want you to know that Baron Hill wants to privatize Social Security.

The Indiana Republican Party also wonders why Baron Hill is accepting campaign money from Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi of California, who has visions of being the Speaker of the House should Democrats regain control. She is painted as a “San Francisco liberal” in the press release (and we all know what THAT means).

Is Baron Hill selling his vote?

Friends of Baron Hill would like everyone to know that Mike Sodrel “lied to a minister” because he apparently broke his “pledge” not to allow negative campaigning.

Don’t like President Bush? Democratic campaigners would have you believe that your Congressman Sodrel and “W” are tight, and that he and other Republicans in Congress are blinding following a leader who is taking this country down a dangerous path.

In all of these cases and others (since I began to write this column, I have received three more emails), is there a fine line between “negative” campaigning and pointing out the flaws of an opponent?

Are you being negative if a particular vote on a particular issue was cast in a particular way? Since both men have experience in Congress – Baron Hill was our congressman until he was defeated by Mike Sodrel two years ago – then both have voting records that they can either stand on or get hammered by.

I’ve seen some of the legislation that goes through Congress. Much of it has all sorts of amendments attached to it that have little to do with the central content of the bill itself.

A bill to help those on Social Security may have an amendment giving members of Congress a pay raise. Vote for it, and you’re a “money grabber” who’s only interested in more money in your own pocket.

Vote against it because of the pay raise? You’re anti-elderly.

You can’t win, and both political parties have large staffs of workers who pour through each and every item, just looking for that one vote that can serve as the lynch pin to big publicity and a bigger segment of the voting population.

I have to admit, it is a confusing time. I know both of these men – and I personally like both of them and think that both truly has the best interest of this district in mind when they cast votes.

Can they both also be that bad? Do they have “evil twins” like they do in the movies? Are those “evil twins” kidnapping the real congressman and then heading to the floor to cast silly votes and infuriate voters?

What really matters is that at the end of the day on Tuesday, November 7th, we can look at ourselves in the mirror and unite behind whichever candidate will be heading back to Washington in January.

Don’t get caught up in all of the “junk” that flies around from different special interest groups. Both men have been in Switzerland County – and I’m guessing both will return before Election Day. When they do, go and listen to what they have to say. Go see both candidates, put your party affiliation down for just a moment, and try and listen without bias and without history.

It is time for this district to look forward and move ahead. Either Mike Sodrel or Baron Hill is going to help lead us in that direction – not some political action committee or special interest group.