Candidates use sound bites and catch phrases to try to reach voters. Unfortunately, the short campaign phrases are often vague and sometimes misleading. Even good candidates resort to buzzwords and catch phrases because getting their message out in a short space is hard.
Unfortunately, deceptive candidates take advantage of short campaign phrases to say something to appeal to most voters without getting locked down on a real position. They know many voters will just assume what the candidate is saying is the same thing they want to hear.
So how do you figure out what good candidates are saying and what deceptive candidates are trying to hide? First, by becoming familiar with common campaign words and second by asking for clarification when the words are vague. Most good candidates are happy to explain their positions.
In this series of articles, we will review some common campaign words. Let’s start with: “I STAND FOR ARKANSAS VALUES.” It is a common phrase on campaign literature but what does it mean to the candidate if anything.
If you think “Arkansas values” only has one meaning then you need to consider the following:
- To you, does “Arkansas values” bring to mind the image of a self-reliant Arkansan who doesn’t want a lot of government interference? If so, you need to know there are also others who think about Arkansas’ long history of progressive big government policies when they hear the phrase.
- Do you think it means the candidate will vote conservatively both on social and fiscal issues? If so, you need to know many past winners, even among Republicans, have voting records that don’t match with that idea.
- Do you think Arkansas values means not being like crazy California? If so, remember in some ways Arkansas politics is similar to California, especially when it comes to having some of the highest taxes in the nation.
- Most people think Arkansas values are the same as their values, regardless of whether they are conservative or liberal. Remember, until recent years Arkansas was a Democrat state, and some areas of the state still elect Democrats.
They say beauty is in the eye of the beholder and the point here is that the meaning of “Arkansas values” is in the eye of the beholder.
We are not saying to reject a candidate who uses the vague phrase. Both good and bad candidates use it. What we are saying is don’t assume you know what the candidate means. You need to find out more. Ask the candidate to list the specific values he or she is claiming as Arkansas values and ask what he or she would do to further those values.
It is not hard to ask. Most, if not all, candidates have social media accounts and email. We have found many politicians are happy to have an opportunity to clarify their positions. When you ask be respectful and let the candidate know you live in their district.
ADDENDUM: After we scheduled this article for posting, we saw a Facebook response asking a candidate what he meant by “Arkansas values.” And as we predicted the candidate was quick to provide clarification. Here is what Senator Dan Sullivan (R- Jonesboro) wrote on his Facebook page on December 18:
Several have asked, what are the ‘AR values’ I referenced in a previous post.
AR & the US have a representative republican form of government. As such one, but obviously not all, measure of AR values are reflected in the ppl a majority of the voters elect. In AR, all 6 US representatives as well as all state constitutional officers are Republicans. In addition, the AR House & Senate have Republican super majorities. Those Republicans ran and were elected based on the Republican Platform. One could then conclude that the Republican Platform is a valid measure of the values of the majority of Arkansans. Those values include the power of faith in God Almighty, the sanctity of life, individual responsibility and initiative, individual freedom and liberty secured by a limited government, private property, lower taxes to produce economic growth, strong national defense, the personal right to own and bear arms, the equal and just enforcement of the law and separate and equal branches of government.
What Senator Dan Sullivan identified in his Facebook post as what “Arkansas Values” means to him may not be what the candidate in your area is saying, even if that candidate is also Republican. Based on voting records not all people who run on the Republican ticket honor the platform and principles. We wish they did.