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Letter to the editor

Vote Smart; learn about candidates

November 29, 2007

Vote Smart does not accept financial contributions from lobbyists, governmental organizations, corporations, labor unions or special interests. It is entirely member supported.

Some of the founding board members are John McCain, George McGovern, Geraldine Ferraro, Newt Gingrich—a balance of current and former Republican and Democratic office holders. The Board also includes well-known political scientists, Native Americans, African Americans, attorneys and professors.

The goal is to provide voters with a candidate database including biographical and campaign finance information (from over 100 conservative to liberal special interest groups), issue positions, voting records and public statements.

Information is provided on the following office holders:  President; Congressional Members; Governors; State Legislators; Statewide, County and Local Officials.

PVS free information can be accessed through its Web site: http://www.vote-smart.org/ and by calling 1-888-868-3762.

Many politicians do not like what PVS does. For example, each candidate is offered the chance to take the National Political Awareness Test (NPAT), which measures their will to provide citizens with issue positions. In “The Voter’s Self Defense Manual,” office holders with “Passed NPAT” after their name provided citizens with issue positions before their last general election. Those with “Failed NPAT” did not do so.

In the NPAT, also called “The Political Courage Test,” Candidates/Incumbents are asked whether they support, not whether they oppose, positions related to issues such as Affirmative Action, abortion, crime, education and many others. All they must do is put an X next to a statement to show support.

Wisconsin’s Gov. Doyle, Sens. Feingold and Kohl all failed the most recent NPAT, as did our U.S. representatives except Ron Kind. Although Gov. Doyle has never responded to the NPAT, Sen. Kohl did in 1992, Feingold in 1994.

Sen. Harsdorf and Rep. Rhoades failed the NPAT in 2006, although Harsdorf responded in 1996, Rhoades in 1998.

“All of us realize,” according to a Project Vote Smart pamphlet, “that the mudslinging tactics once associated with the crudest kinds of local politics now characterize all campaigns and have stripped us of that one most crucial component in our struggle to self-govern:  abundant, relevant and accurate information about those who govern us and who wish to replace those who do.”

How does that make you, the citizen and voter, feel? Want more information? I have a short video and a supply of pamphlets to distribute. If you are interested in learning more, avail yourself of the Web site or phone number above, or call me at (715) 425-7467.

PVS representatives are scheduled to come to UW-River Falls and the City of River Falls as the 2008 campaign gets in full gear.

River Falls Mayor
Don Richards