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25 Mar 2009 06:00
In his acclaimed (and very expensive) book Alpha Dogs, James Harding, editor of The Times newspaper, captures a very interesting story of one Kevin White running for mayoral office in the city of Boston in the United States in 1978.
White, who had been mayor of the big city for three terms and was campaigning for re-election, had enlisted the services of renowned spin doctors to help him. Apparently, on the first day of meeting the men who would help him back to office, one of the men, Ned Kennan, looked White in the face and said to him: “The people of Boston really do not like you.
In fact they hate you.
Obviously White was both shocked and unimpressed by such candour from someone who claimed to be on his side and who expected to be, and was, paid lots of money for such “advice”.
After a long explanation of why people viewed him this badly White asked if it meant he was going to lose the election and Kennan responded, to more of White’s shock: “No, I believe you are going to win the election. Tell the truth. Say ‘I’m Kevin White. I am a selfish, aloof, son-of-a-bitch bastard. I run a big political machine. But I love this city, Boston, and I’m using all of that machine politics and power to make the city prosper’.” Much more happened between that day and election day, but the long and short of it is that White was re-elected with a big majority.
While I was recently stuck in traffic a thought visited me about who I will or must vote for. The truth is I am undecided about who I should give my vote to. So, after reading Alpha Dogs, I have decided the only party that will win my vote is the one that is willing to stand up in public and tell me the truth about itself. Maybe, just maybe, I might catapult it into office. So I thought about what kinds of truth I would be excited to hear from some of the key political parties in this country. Something like:
I could go on and on about the other parties, but what’s the point? The sad truth is that for the next three-and-a-half weeks we are going to continue to be bombarded by political campaigns of lies, promises and denials. And for some strange reason all the parties are going to expect me to wake up on April 22 and stand in the sun, in a long queue, eager to give them my vote. You must be kidding me.
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