August 9, 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
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