Off to the Races

America goes to the polls in less than two weeks. With the House of Representatives controlled by Republicans with just a six-seat margin and Democrats running the United States Senate with just a one-seat spread, control over the legislative branch of government is truly up for grabs. As one observer, James Thurber of American University put it, “I cannot think of a time in modern politics, since FDR, where we have had such consequential issues in terms of the outcome of an election.”

While most of the coverage has and will focus on the partisan nature of the campaign – which party will control Congress – CSE has focused on the issues. What’s at stake in this election? Here’s a quick summary of what will, in part, be decided:

  • The future of Social Security Reform

  • Whether the Bush tax cuts will be made permanent or be repealed

  • Whether tort reform and medical malpractice reform will move forward

  • Whether Congress will control the growth of spending

  • Whether America will allow for the exploration of new domestic energy sources

  • Whether the Senate will confirm judges in a timely and fair manner

    CSE cares deeply about each of these issues, but we understand that in a democracy it is not enough to just have well thought out position papers. We believe in the need for direct voter education. CSE cannot and does not endorse candidates for office. We are a nonpartisan issue advocacy organization dedicated to lower taxes, less government and more freedom. We do, however, recognize that elections do raise issues and focus the attention of voters. In other words, the election season does present unique opportunities for educating citizens about the important issues of the day and the record of candidates on these issues.

    With all the talk of Iraq, Social Security, soft money and control of Congress it would be easy to miss the potentially biggest political development this year. The conservative side of the Washington establishment has finally realized the importance of grassroots organizing and mobilization. As you know, this is nothing new for CSE. For over five years now we have been putting the bulk of our resources into developing an effective grassroots army to fight for lower taxes, less government and more freedom.

    In campaign after campaign this year, more resources are being devoted to on-the-ground activities. “People are switching to door-to-door or other kinds of personal appeals,” according to Yale University political scientist Donald Green. He says that “get-out-the-vote messages delivered in person are far more effective than impersonal appeals via TV, direct mail and commercial phone banks.” CSE and our army of volunteer activists have known this for a long time.

    Voters need to be organized and mobilized. This is the best method for demonstrating to elected officials that there is a powerful grassroots constituency for less government, lower taxes and more economic freedom.

    Although our resources remain limited, CSE’s strategy of targeted, direct voters appeals will force candidates in both parties to address the issues that CSE activists care most about.

    Let me cite just a few specific examples. In North Carolina, where Elizabeth Dole has emerged as the leading senate candidate championing personal retirement accounts, CSE activists have hit the streets. Our activists will visit 100,000 homes and drop off literature explaining how personal retirement would save the Social Security system, and where the candidates stand on the issues. Mrs. Dole’s opponent, former Clinton Chief of Staff Erskine Bowles has spent millions of dollars in TV advertising distorting the truth about Social Security. CSE activists will be on the streets, talking neighbor-to-neighbor, setting the record straight.

    In South Dakota, incumbent Senator Tim Johnson (D-SD) faces Rep. John Thune (R-SD) in one of the nation’s closest and most closely watched Senate races. The airways are so crowded with political advertising that the candidates themselves cannot even purchase any more time. While others waste their resources on overexposed TV advertising, CSE activists are on-the-ground in South Dakota, distributing literature and pounding in yard signs. Sen. Tim Johnson has a poor record when it comes to domestic energy security and CSE is directly educating voters of that state about the candidate’s record on energy, taxes and social security.

    In another closely watched Senate contest, New Hampshire, Rep. John Sununu faces the Governor, Jeanne Shaheen. CSE has a long history of directing and winning local issue battles in the state of New Hampshire. Many of those battles have been waged against the tax increase proposals of Gov. Shaheen. Rep. Sununu is a long time champion of fundamental tax reform, and recently won CSE’s prestigious Jefferson Award for his excellent voting record in the Congress. The issue divide between theses candidates is as stark as it is in any other race in the country – and CSE activists in New Hampshire have a plan of action to make the voters aware of these differences.

    CSE and our activists will be carrying out similar activities in Florida, Pennsylvania, Oregon, Oklahoma, Minnesota, Maryland, and we’re ready to tackle other opportunities that become apparent in the closing weeks of this election season. If you care about freedom, now is the time to get involved. If you want to join our efforts, give me a call at 1-888-JOIN-CSE.

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