Here’s some advice politicians and their staff would do well to take: stop giving voters the impression you don’t care.
There’s a perception among many voters in the U.S. and other western democracies that politicians don’t care about them. It comes through loud and clear in the hundreds of focus groups I’ve been involved in. It’s not hard to see why.
Last Thursday morning I was listening to a candidate on the radio running for the vacant House seat in Staten Island, NY. The host, Brian Lehrer, often gives candidates an open platform at the end of his interviews with candidates running for office. Here’s how Dan Donovan chose to use this platform:
Well thank you Brian. And I think what’s really important for voters to understand — Democrats, Republicans, independents, conservatives — is that there is 13 members of Congress that make up the the delegation of New York City. Right now there’s 12 Democrats and there’s one open seat — the seat I’m running for. The district, the region, the city, has an opportunity to send a Republican to Congress who will be in the majority of the House of Representatives at the same time the Republicans control the Senate. So it’s a great opportunity to bring resources home, it’s a great opportunity to represent New York City, and particularly the people of the 11th Congressional District at a time when the people in power are of the same party as I am…
Think about how arrogant this pitch is: vote for me because my party holds the majority in Washington. No expression of values, no ideas, no empathy.
The people in this district have been let down. Their previous representative, Michael Grimm, resigned before taking his third term after pleading guilty to tax evasion charges. They deserve better than someone who doesn’t even seem to care about anything other than winning.
It’s hubris that is becoming all too common in politics. And it’s not just a Republican problem.
We deserve better.