Thursday, June 5, 2008

Freedom from Choice = Here and Now, 2008

Last weekend, coming out of a Norwich grocery store, I met a candidate for the CT 2nd Congressional District. He was sitting right there at the exit on a folding chair behind a card table with a clipboard holding a petition (for which he sought signatures) to the State Elections Committee to have his name placed on the ballot in November.

I'm very used to encountering all kinds of people or causes at the exit to the grocery store ranging from the bell-ringers with the kettle at the Christmas holiday season to the Brownies selling Girl Scout cookies (Girl Scouts do not sell the cookies, the Brownies do; why is that? And while I'm wondering about stuff, what is it exactly Boy Scouts, and by extension Cub Scouts, should or could be selling? Jell-O shooters? I'm kidding, of course. In addition to getting a stern talking-to from M.A.D.D., I'd have to deal with a very unhappy Bill Cosby. Plus, we'd have to build bigger exits.)

When you have congressional elections every two years as we do, you end up with folks who may start running for one reason or another, but who, if elected, then start to run for re-election on almost the same night their first term begins for entirely different reasons. Everything costs money, as we all know, and it takes a LOT of money to be a successful candidate for Congress. As recently as 2006, there was a news story that the Center for Responsive Politics estimated it cost $35 per vote to get someone elected. (Cynic that I am, I'll bet it costs less to lose an election.)

I check in on a regular basis with Project Vote Smart because I'm a voter who needs all the help he can get on where various people stand, or sit, on issues and how they would implement their solutions if elected. And in the 2nd District, it would seem we have a 'plethora of possibilities' as one of my prep-school English teachers might say. So while voters in many areas of the country may be saying a 'pox on both your houses' in terms of the choices for voices they have, or don't have, this fall, we on this side of the Connecticut River do have a number of different paths. Depending on where we want to go, we have a variety of roads from which to choose. But if you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice.
-bill kenny

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