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Talking Points Don’t Always Work
by Sudhama Ranganathan Thursday, Oct. 21, 2010 at 10:14 AM (email address validated)

Recently we have had a wave of politicians who’ve seemed to be more talking points driven than anything else. It’s an election year, so, yes, they’re all sticking to their talking points and there is nothing new about that. But, when there are candidates who have memorized their talking points and a few sentences related to the talking points, yet don’t seem to know anything about those talking points it does give one pause. If they are capable of no more than repeating some memorized phrases, then what is it they really believe in? Why are they running?

Talking Points Don...
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You don’t need a JD or a degree in rocket science to be an elected official, but to run as an informed person aware of why you are running and the issues which hold value to you should mean that you learn about those issues to some extent. Otherwise if, for example, such a candidate is debating someone who is passionate about the issues being discussed it is possible they may end up running into a wall at some point. They may out themselves as not having taken the time to educate themselves about the issues they claim to care about.

If it is an issue they are not passionate about, they may not want to start a debate on it. If it is an issue they did not take the time to learn about to round out their perspective, perhaps they should stay away from the topic or keep their answers short. If they have not taken some time to learn both sides of the issue to help inform their perspective, they may not wish to walk right into it.

Otherwise, candidates for public office could find themselves exposing a lack of understanding of the issues they claim to care about. It could come across as a lack of sincerity. It could start to seem that they have just memorized a bunch of lines, and when they are pressed on the substance of the issues, they start to draw blanks or come up short.

Without mentioning names, there have been instances this election season of candidates, who claim to be passionate about certain issues exposing the fact they aren’t really familiar with the fundamentals of those issues. This has happened more than once. What’s more, in some cases it has happened with people who have caused uproars over issues they claimed to have been passionate about.

Yet, when they had their chance to defend their positions they came up drastically short. Some of these candidates are already shoo-ins according to polls touted in the media. They have essentially already won their races. Others are still involved in their fights.

It doesn’t count for all the candidates as some are well informed and have demonstrated an ability to stand up for what they believe in with informed views showing they are relatively committed to their stated positions. Whether one agrees with all their positions or not it goes to competency. It shows they are capable of thinking for themselves and are able to take in information and weigh it before giving an answer of their own.

There have been other candidates who have demonstrated that outside of talking points they have no informed opinions. It would seem they more feel things are a certain way and just begin using the talking points fed them to back up what they are saying. Yet, when they need to take information and process it for themselves, they are left a little unsure what to do.

One cannot rely on talking points when it comes time to make crucial decisions regarding issues of national importance. In an emergency one cannot wait for the exact terms they memorized to be uttered before they are willing to act or as a signal as to how they should act. They need to be able to take the information put in front of them and to process it. They need to be able to think for themselves. In an emergency a fireman, for example, is expected to have knowledge of the situation beyond merely assuming a certain thing probably works when putting out a fire.

This is not so an elected official can prevent embarrassing their party, their constituents or themselves. It is so the nation has competent leadership able to think for themselves, and not the products of memorizing lists of bullet points all others in their party are being given to memorize, which even if they are asked about pinto beans, they repeat as if their lives depended upon it. But, this is for those times when the lives of the people of this great nation depend on their ability to take information and come to clear, competent decisions, and not about saving their own tuchus'.

The media has declared the election over with one side already a lock for sweeping the house with the senate slated for a re-shuffling and potential changing of guard also. Let’s hope any candidates who get elected, who were told not to speak to the press by their party higher-ups until after they the election because of what they might say, won’t let us down in an emergency when talking points alone simply won’t cut it. We have had elected leaders who after Election Day began to show signs they may not have been fully informed on all the issues. Let’s find out what kind of leaders these will be. Either way kudos to the well deserving winners. Mission accomplished.

To read about my inspiration for this article go to

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