The Words of the Carlson Family

Election Year Trifecta

David Carlson
July, 2000

It’s election year again. The 2000 primaries are complete, and all eyes are turning toward November. Americans will be voting for candidates from City Council to President. (Does anyone really vote for dog catchers?) Earlier versions of this article appeared in 1992 and 1996.

These days, most election campaigns are run by professional consultants. Some of them are very successful, even traveling to foreign countries to work their media magic. Others border on the bizarre, giving "alpha male" advice more fit for wolves. Some candidates persist in hiring "old boy network" advisors with a proven record of failure.

Here in California, often the candidate (or cause) that shovels the most money loses the worst. A long string of eccentric millionaires has, at the least, livened things up a bit.

Candidates show ads featuring cute children, idyllic scenes, stirring music, and a breathless recounting of all the wonderful things they do. They also demonize their opponents with unflattering photos and jarring music. It begins to sound as if they’re a bunch of stand-ins for the Second Coming . . .

With so many recent scandals, most candidates don’t mention their Party affiliation, or whether they’re the incumbent.

At this point I must include a disclaimer. This is a nonprofit, religious publication, so we must not support, endorse, or denounce any specific legislation, candidate, or party. Wouldn’t dream of it!


Astute observers believe this election is crucial to the fate of the United States. Several Supreme Court seats are at stake. The various political parties offer radically different ideologies, positions, and levels of decency.

Some activists claim that Washington is hopeless; controlled by "insiders" who not-so-secretly pull everyone’s strings. If they haven’t given up on politics entirely, these activists tell us "we need a third party." Protest candidates like Minnesota’s Gov. Jesse Ventura have shocked the establishment by actually winning.

However, for everyone to find a third party that exactly suited their views, there would have to be thousands of them! Even Gov. Ventura has abandoned the party that sponsored him for office.

Recent elections have featured low turnouts. This is commonly called a bad thing; but uninformed, emotional voters may be worse than nothing. Politicians are expert demagogues. That is, they try to appeal more to your emotions than to your mind. Certain types of people (whom it wouldn’t be politically correct for this author to describe) are notorious for voting with shallow motivations. Statistics prove that, in almost every case, the tallest candidate, with the best looks and hair, wins. In an age of TV, Washington, Lincoln, and Roosevelt might never have been elected.

Things are going fairly well in this country, so most people see no need to vote. It takes real, widespread trouble to energize the masses, and thank God we haven’t had any lately.

Tax Money

When a politician promises you wonderful things, he (or she) is hoping to buy your vote. When they shake your hand, visualize their other hand reaching into your wallet. Remember, they can never give you anything—they have to take your money first. Worse, they will waste half (maybe even three quarters) of it on sweetheart deals and bureaucratic bungling.

Of course, they’ll tell you they’re spending somebody else’s money, taxed from "the rich," or "big corporations." Or that they’ve "brought in Federal dollars," from some distant but unnamed locale. The recent Census 2000 was hyped as a veritable fount of this magical money. Politicians assume you’re too ignorant to figure out their game.

Have we gotten our money’s worth? In the past forty years government ventured into solving social problems, and spent more than 5 trillion dollars. That’s trillion, with a "t." Enough money to buy up our nation’s troubled areas lock, stock, and barrel—and still give every poor person a huge check.

Obviously this avalanche of tax money hasn’t accomplished much. I hear that some people got some good help, but they’ve left behind an even larger number of folks stuck in the same old boat.

Where is this vast scheme headed? The growth of America’s government has outpaced its population 100-fold. The Federal budget has grown even faster. You’ve heard outrageous examples of misspent money. Our national debt, if you include every bond and pension obligation, has reached some 20 trillion dollars!

Yet many politicians have the gall to say we haven’t spent enough ; that plans to cut your taxes are "risky schemes" that will ruin everything. If you check the actual numbers, you’ll see that government spending grows every year. The arguments you hear usually concern how fast. It’s never enough to satisfy everyone.

That’s too bad, because the handouts can’t increase forever. During the past decade, new technologies, and the resulting boom, have boosted the economy enough to cover a multitude of machinations. Over 150 years ago, Frederic Bastiat got it right when he said, "But the [government] is not a breast that fills itself with milk. Nor are the lacteal veins of the [government] supplied with milk from a source outside of society."


At election time candidates will roar, "It’s time to get tough on (fill in the blank)!" It’s usually empty rhetoric. Commentators like Michael Reagan and KSFO’s Jim Eason are holding their actual records up to public view.

Remember, even on those rare occasions when something is their legitimate concern, government has a hard time doing anything right. To "save" a child they’ll wave loaded machine guns at him. In trying to "save" a forest they’ll burn it up completely—along with about half of New Mexico. If a candidate promises he’s going to fix things, try to get some details.

Before you vote, get informed. One overhears conversations about "aid to Boanesia" or "independence for Franistan," and yet those same people couldn’t find Canada on a map!

Check out the issues, and the numbers. You don’t need a college degree for this; just knowing the rough proportions can be pretty enlightening. How much are we taxed? Where is it spent? Who makes the rules? Is the problem really going away?

Don’t ever rely on the mainstream news media for your information. They are selective, biased, and dumbed-down—and it’s only getting worse. The TV networks remain utterly silent on many vital stories.

Check out differing viewpoints. Magazines carry a huge variety of opinions. The Utne Reader has populist/leftist views, and covers many unusual stories. Insight magazine offers staunchly conservative news and opinions.

National Public Radio features a progressive viewpoint. (Some say a far leftist one.) With Rush Limbaugh you’ll hear an incisive, conservative view. (Or an insensitive, extremist one.) Informative talk stations like KSFO can be heard over the Internet. (At, You can also find WorldNetDaily and other news sources on-line.

If you’re as busy as I am, you can go pester some better-informed friends. Pick a variety of people. This author recently did so regarding the Elian Gonzalez case, and started up a lively on-line discussion.

I want to know each candidate’s record, philosophy, and position on the issues. I would hope to understand their personal character. When I lived in Idaho, I actually met some of the bigwigs. Here in California I’ve met dedicated activists of many stripes.


Rev. Moon says that God has blessed America with its prominence and prosperity because we believed in Him. Also because she "sacrificed herself," her blood and treasure, for the freedom of many nations. Long ago, Alexis de Tocqueville observed that America thrives because "its people are good." What a far cry from the popular, selfish "us first" political platforms.

Winston Churchill once said, "We have the worst form of government, except for all the others." We should be thankful for what we have, even if we do keep messing it up. It’s been said that we get the leadership we deserve. I think there’s plenty of room for improvement, don’t you? For now, I say: get informed, and get involved. See you down at the polling booth.

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