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Wednesday, November 02, 2005

An Open Letter to a Republican New Jersey Blogger

When I talk to my students about the image surrounding young people - that they just don't care about the world around them - they are dumbfounded. If I let them, they could go on for an hour straight about how they have given time and what little money they could muster to this cause or to that charity. Then when I talk to them about voting, the classroom usually goes silent. Out of a class of maybe fifty, I'll be lucky if more than two people raise their hands when I ask who is registered to vote. THAT, I tell them, is why their school funding is getting cut. THAT, I tell them, is why the legal age to sign a contract to get killed in Iraq is eighteen but the legal age to have a beer is twenty-one. THAT, I tell them, is why older people look at them with disgust and say they just don't care.

But they DO care. They care a lot. Neglecting the spelling and grammar errors in the essays they write for me, some of them write some of the most moving stories about their personal connection to almost every single political topic we discuss - from a closeted homosexual who just wants to share property legally with his lover to a young man whose best friend was knifed by someone who never had permission to be in this country to a young woman who sometimes misses classes because the daycare center for her little brother isn't always open - they care. In fact, it is refreshing to me to listen to their stories and witness their passion and remember what it was like before I became somewhat jaded and understood that, perhaps, changing the world wouldn't be as easy as I envisioned when I was eighteen.

But they don't vote.

They willingly surrender their public voices because they simply don't have the experience to peal away the layer upon layer of lie and innuendo that have become the hallmark of political campaigns in America. It was evident in the Presidential campaign as never before - from false papers about the President's National Guard service to the false-front of Swift Boat veterans who flip-flopped more than any politician ever dreamed of doing. It was the hatred beneath the fake Purple Heart band-aids - which, as a veteran myself who has several family members with that particular decoration, disgusted me more than words can express. It's the "win at any cost" mentality that the Bush White House is now being investigated for.

And it's right here in New Jersey. Not only are the political commercials sleazy, but surrogates have now gotten in on the action. Enlighten NJ, who I generally consider to be the honorable opposition, has made several posts intimating that Corzine will trip and that somehow Corzine has done something even worse than McGreevey (not sure if he means being gay or hiring unqualified people for government positions) and swirling rumors of a video tape. Enlighten even promised that the next 48 hours would alter the campaign dramatically - but that was a week ago.

I prefer to be generous with this particular blog, as I consider it to be one of the better (less rabid) Republican/Conservative blogs about New Jersey. More than once, I've found myself agreeing with things I've read there. I am willing to consider that Enlighten has simply been misled.

The problem with blogging is that there is no editor. What you read comes directly from me. No one cross-checks my facts. I don't have a bevy of researchers to look up leads or tie up loose ends. I assume that Enlighten is the same. However, this type of freedom to speak directly to the public should come with some sort of ethical responsibility. Yes, bring out the dirt when it needs to be shown - but be able to back it up. Go ahead and jump on a fast moving story - but when it runs into a brick wall, you should state that you were wrong or that you acted in good faith and nothing came of it.

Unfortuntely, Enlighten has not yet done so. Instead, he prefers to refer to a New York gossip collumnist and talk about the Corzine campaign being in "crisis mode" - though why a politician would be in crisis over an ex-wife who doesn't like either her ex-husband or the woman he left her for is beyond me. To his credit, Enlighten doesn't seem to agree with the statement about crisis mode, but then that begs the question: Why put it up at all?

Wally Edge, who as a professional reporter does have a code of ethics to uphold, admits that the rumors about Corzine hiding something appear to be absolutely nothing but rumors.


Speculation among political insiders that there was something out there that could hurt Corzine's chances has not materialized -- the best the GOP has right now are some gossip column quotes from a New York newspaper and a pair of tough lines from the Senator's ex-wife in today's New York Times -- hardly enough to sink the Democratic campaign.


So, I'd like to ask my friend (at least I consider us blogger-friends/acquaintences) to come clean with the rumors. I'm not asking for an endorsement of Corzine - I'm not stupid, after all. Just a simple line or two referring back to your post and admitting it was wrong.

Help me clean up Jersey politics - even if it is just a little.

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