August 09, 2004

Loyalty Oaths

This has to be one of the dumbest campaign strategies I’ve ever seen.

RIO RANCHO, N.M. -- A Republican National Committee practice of having people sign a form endorsing President Bush or pledging to vote for him in November before being issued tickets for RNC-sponsored rallies is raising concern among voters.

When Vice President Dick Cheney spoke July 31 to a crowd of 2,000 in Rio Rancho, a city of 45,000 near Albuquerque, several people who showed up at the event complained about being asked to sign endorsement forms in order to receive a ticket to hear Cheney.

''Whose vice president is he?" said 72-year-old retiree John Wade of Albuquerque, who was asked to sign the form when he picked up his tickets. ''I just wanted to hear what my vice president had to say, and they make me sign a loyalty oath."

So, what happens if you lie when you sign the “loyalty oath?” What happens if you change your mind? Since we have secret ballots in this country (at least for those of us who don’t blog) nothing really could happen to you if you pledge to vote Republican and then vote for Ralph Nader (or whoever else) instead. But still. The RNC can’t possibly win voters this way, and they could easily lose several. I guess they don’t want anyone booing the speeches. That would look bad on the TV. Or so they think. This looks a lot worse.

No one who considers voting for Bush is going to watch one of his speeches on the TV, hear some guy booing in the back, and suddenly think: the booer is right! I can’t vote for this guy. But these “loyalty oaths” could easily be a factor. It’s no way to win over this swing voter. I’m not signing a loyalty oath for any political party. Not now. Not ever. Candidates are supposed to woo swing voters, not tell them to take a hike.

Posted by Michael J. Totten at August 9, 2004 10:26 AM

I agree. Dumb idea. Just charge admission instead.

Posted by: Eric Blair at August 9, 2004 10:43 AM

I'm willing to bet some highly paid consultant DIMWIT thought this up. Fire his ass.

Posted by: David at August 9, 2004 11:31 AM

That would piss me off so bad...What an ass thing to do..

Posted by: Cathy at August 9, 2004 11:58 AM

The strategy must be let us do things that lend substance to our opponents most vituperative criticism and alienate undecideds and independents in the process, thus ceding the election to the pompous, sanctimonious bore the adverse party has put up for election.

Posted by: Zacek at August 9, 2004 12:15 PM

Zacek, I couldn't possibly fail to disagree with you less.

Posted by: dipnut at August 9, 2004 12:19 PM

You can either turn people off or let in the Anarchists. That seems to be the choice. Not that Anarchists might sign the pledge to get in the door.

I believe that if the Anarchists are successful in New York, they will probably help re-elect President Bush. It seems to me to be a potential Chicago 1968 scenario.

You still seem predisposed to be critical of President Bush, his campaign, and Republicans. Given your background, I guess it is understandable.

I wish you would not be taken in by John Kerry, as he seems to be not a credible leader. Maybe he is your only option, since you seem dead set against the President.


Jim Bender

Posted by: Jim Bender at August 9, 2004 12:19 PM

Dipnut: I can't not pretend to appreciate convoluted sentences as much as I used to, when I didn't care for them at all.

Posted by: Zacek at August 9, 2004 12:39 PM

Michael, let's be fair: these campaign appearances are photo-ops. This mechanism--as silly as it is--is designed to filter out the Indymedia/MoveOn/ACT gang in an attempt to create a nice, friendly atmosphere.

Both sides are trying to avoid partisan embarrassment: later in the same article, the DNC rep for NM said some Bush supporters infiltrated the crowd so they could shout "Viva Bush" and wave flip-flops.

I agree that both sides really ought to just let people attend without cherry-picking attendees. But preaching to the choir makes for good TV, which is where campaigns are fought today.

Posted by: Ryan at August 9, 2004 12:49 PM

This is stupid, stupid, stupid.

The only thing it can achieve for sure is turning people off.

Posted by: Bostonian at August 9, 2004 01:00 PM

Dumb move. The protesters they worry about are much more likely to turn off swing voters than otherwise. (It's true the liberal press would play up the protesters' actions, but again, I think that only plays to Republican advantage.)

Posted by: Mark Poling at August 9, 2004 01:08 PM

"can't not"?


Posted by: dipnut at August 9, 2004 01:37 PM

Gimme eat.

Give EVERYBODY eat!!

Posted by: Major --- de Coverly at August 9, 2004 02:24 PM

Now I'm wondering if they got Medea Benjamin on video trying to unfurl an antiwar banner and being hustled out by security during M. Night Shymalian's Democratic convention.

Posted by: Zacek at August 9, 2004 03:54 PM

Major -- de Coverley rocks!

Posted by: Mork at August 9, 2004 03:59 PM

No one who considers voting for Bush is going to watch one of his speeches on the TV, hear some guy booing in the back, and suddenly think: the booer is right! I can’t vote for this guy.

That's not the point of booing. The Bush people are holding the Cheney event to excite their supporters, and that's more difficult if you have a bunch of idiots in the back booing. It's not meant for swing voters. Sheesh.

Posted by: Al at August 9, 2004 05:08 PM

If this is a mechanism to weed out potential hecklers from these GOP events, it won't work. Some Ted Rall-esque whackball is bound to sign one of those "oaths" so he can get in and rant about Enron and Halliburton and Florida votes and other DU fare.

Posted by: Alan K. Henderson at August 10, 2004 12:41 AM

Not that it's truly binding or anything, but wouldn't you feel at least a little bit honor-bound to vote the way you pledged?

I mean, if I've signed a document saying "I pledge to vote for" so-and-so, and I get to the polls and think, "I'm going to ignore that signed pledge and vote for someone else"...wouldn't that make you uncomfortable that you've broken an oath?

Ethical or not, it would make me uncomfortable. I might not end up honoring it at the moment of decision, but still...

Maybe I'm giving Republicans too much credit for having honor ;)

Posted by: Barry at August 10, 2004 07:33 AM


I dunno, after all, what one is apparently signing states:

"I, (full name) ... do herby (sic) endorse George W. Bush for reelection of the United States."

It doesn't say anything about reelection of Mr. Bush to the position of President, only that we wish to reelect the United States. ;-)

Sometimes one can get close to saying the right thing and still miss it by a mile.

Posted by: Ratatosk at August 10, 2004 08:38 AM

This idiocy reminds me of one of my favorite scenes in Catch 22 - when the entire camp is gripped by loyalty oath fever. The situation degenerates to the absurdity of having to recite the loyalty oath to get extra helpings in the mess hall, etc - so nothing ever gets done, because so much time is taken up by people reciting loyalty oaths left and right.

Obviously, Heller's writing is much more amusing than mine!! The loyalty oath scene made me laugh out loud when I first read it.

Posted by: red at August 10, 2004 10:51 AM

Al has it right on this -

These events aren't meant for swing voters. They are designed to get coverage from the local media and reward supporters with a visit from their candidate(s) for their hard (and otherwise unpaid) work on behalf of said candidates.

I've seen more than one story where supposed "swing voters" tried to crash these events then claimed they were "just swing voters trying to see their president/vice president." Oh, did I mention that they were wearing two t-shirts? A plain one on top and a second one underneath with an anti-Bush message? These people are obviously upset because they weren't allowed to disrupt the gathering as they had originally planned...You're going to have to give me a moment while I weep for them...

Pleeeassee...If you don't want to sign, don't go...These are billed as campaign events not general public appearances. The faux shock being displayed because people are actually asked if they support the campaign before they enter makes me laugh...

Posted by: Jim B at August 11, 2004 08:26 PM

I actually kind of like the idea. Can't you imagine a Moo-On fan wearing his Buck Fush tee shirt under a sweater slinking away when asked to sign the card? Personally I find that image hilarious.

Posted by: Brainster at August 13, 2004 01:43 PM
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