Monday, October 31, 2011

The political season in Seattle and those "I'm a Mormon" ads

Its election time in Washington State and that means a barrage of special interest campaign spending. Aside from Costco setting the new all time record on initiative spending to support their Liquor privatization measure I wanted to start off this post with what I think should be considered a violation of what is left of our campaign finance laws.

So Mitt Romney is a Mormon. I have no real problem with that. But to many conservative christian voters in this country Mormonism is a cult and they would never vote for one. I believe that the mainstream media has underestimated this element in the Republican primary debate. I had first hand experience with this reality when I was joined at the Fox Sport Grill (which was an awesome choice) by a self described Republican as my friends and I watched the most recent Republican debate. This Republican admitted to not paying attention to the race yet (as most normal Americans aren't) but was able to recognize Mitt Romney. This person then confirmed with us that he is a Mormon and then when on to declare that they wouldn't not vote for him because of that.

So here is where the campaign finance law violation comes in. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints also known as the LDS, understands that they have a public relations problem and that the best shot they have ever had at real political power in America might be derailed because a large number of Americans don't understand and some fear their religion. The mere fact that this campaign exists means they understand many Americans consider Mormonism "a little weird" at the least.

This campaign is clearly designed to humanize the public's perception of Mormons and help Mitt Romney secure the nomination by hopefully allaying some of the fears of those all important primary voters.

I assert that the spending done by the LDS on this conveniently timed public awareness campaign should be consider an in-kind contribution to the Mitt Romney and to a far lesser extent, Jon Huntsman campaigns. This is obviously illegal since religious organizations are banned from making such contributions.

But, back to the craziness that is Washington politics. With a system of unlimited special interest spending on endless citizen initiative votes, we Washingtonians never run out of stuff to vote on. As I mentioned earlier, Costco's second attempt to privatize liquor sales in 2 years has hit a record for all time spending on a initiative in Washington.

But what really strikes me about this campaign is the fact that very few of their ads actually talk about the merits of the issue. They focus instead on how their opposition is bad and that is why people should vote Yes.

As I mentioned in my previous post on I-1183, there are lots of reasons to vote against 1183 and it seems like the campaign is now just banking on dumping $22 million into the simple message of "yes."

I mean look at this yard sign, it doesn't even say what the initiative does!

The most fundamental reason why I think everyone should vote No on 1183 is summed up by this effective slippery slope argument from the no campaign:

Are we going to let decisions about public policy come down to how much is one special interest going to pump into getting the regulatory environment adjusted to their benefit?


  1. GAH, smartphone ate my comment. Trying again...

    (1) good job getting the mobile site feature turned on. Much easier to read on my phone.

    (2) I get howe this could be seen as hypocritical, and it's not like I'd be voting for him anyway, but I would also have severe reservations voting for a Mormon for a position like president. Given how very precisely the LDS origin story is known (in contrast with that of, say, standard Christianity, where there is no reliable, first-person, non-contradictory source), adherence to its beliefs shows, to me, either a profound unwillingness to question your own views or a severe deficiency in critical thinking skills.

    (3) there's a reason the slippery slope is generally considered to be a logical fallacy. Not to say you're wrong, but you're taking a number of things for granted that I don't think are automatic.

  2. I agree with you John. The slippery slope is a logical fallacy, but I think in the case of Washington's wild west initiative campaign laws it would be very tempting for even more powerful special interest to buy policy outcomes relatively cheaply compared to what some companies could stand to lose if we start closing tax loopholes.

  3. And I agree with you - it definitely sets a dangerous precedent for other companies to see and consider. I'm still voting for it, though, because I agree with the initiative independent of costco's ads.