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The 3rd Congressional Race and political labels

September 20, 2010

Today the Grand Rapids Press and MLive have a story about a group of traditional GOP supporters who are backing a Democrat for the 3rd Congressional race.

The Press lists the 50 people who have decided to back Democratic candidate Patrick Miles Jr. over the Republican candidate Justin Amash. Reporter Jim Harger states, “The campaign of Miles, a Grand Rapids resident, is hoping the endorsements will position him as a centrist while labeling Amash, of Cascade Township, as a conservative ideologue who would lack influence in Washington if elected.

The premise of the article is that the Miles campaign trying to present their candidate as a moderate and Amash as an extremist. Several people cited in the story make these claims, but there is virtually no information or verification of these claims in the article.

The only statement that provided readers with any sense of what either candidate’s politics are was a response from the Amash campaign to the announcement of the GOP endorsements of Miles. “Most 3rd District voters are not looking for a candidate like Pat Miles who is pro choice and supports higher taxes, government-run health care and out-of-control spending.”

A reasonable response from any competent journalist would have been to verify such claims, but the Press reporter doesn’t bother to look at the platform of Miles to see if he is pro choice, supports higher taxes and a government run health system.

Instead the Press reporter just provides comments from traditional GOP voters who are now endorsing Miles. Instead of just accepting the claims made by either campaign the Press reporter should have called into question the claims and provided readers with information to help the public determine what the platform and voting record of Amash actually is in order to determine if his views are “extreme.”

The fact is that neither candidate provides many details on where they stand on key issues and this is what the Press should be pursuing. What good does it do for the public to get coverage of an election that is centered around labels? While it is clear that political campaigns are always trying to paint their opponents as too liberal, too conservative or moderates, these labels are meaningless unless we can make clear determinations on where they stand on the issues.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. September 21, 2010 12:13 am

    Although Miles is attempting to pass himself off as a moderate, this really just shows his status as another wealthy elitist. He has pursued, and accepted, large contributions from corporate backers, and will back the policies that they see fit. This is the kind of behavior that progressives have always expected from Republicans, and while it’s gone on behind the scenes with the Democrats, it’s never been so brazen.

    If anything, this list of endorsements should show Miles for what he really is, another Big Money politician whoring himself.

    Although progressives are a minority in this district, their choices are fairly limited. Miles, who has clearly left them behind, or me the Green Party candidate.

  2. ben permalink
    October 5, 2010 8:34 am

    i think a green party vote will be wasted in this race. it’s going to be close. i’ll give pat two years and watch his voting record carefully.

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