The Communications Victory in November Will Change Politics

Three Factors Relate to Information Age Technology

December 8, 2002

by Mary Mostert, Analyst - Banner of Liberty

Over the past 10 days I have been updating the state information on my website to reflect the results of the November 5th election. Since 1998, when I tracked the last mid-term Congressional Election of the Clinton Administration, I have been posting on my website information, and websites, of candidates and then elected officials in each of the 50 states. Updating the information after elections is time-consuming, but it also is very informative. Much of it also is very local in nature and is rarely known nationwide.

I was one of the few journalists who predicted that the Republicans would keep the house and pick up seats in the Senate before the votes were counted. And, I based that prediction on observations that it seemed to me most of the media simply ignored.

There were three factors involved, all of them relating to information age technology. My first inclination that the November 5th General Election was not going to be a re-run of the 1990s came at a May State Caucus meeting in Utah which I attended, not as a media person, but as a Republican Precinct Chair. In fact, the media was not allowed into the Caucus.

I was elected chairman of my precinct without ever having attended a precinct meeting in my three years as a Utah resident. About two hours before the precinct meeting, early in 2002, I received a call from a friend who WAS active in the precinct asking if she could nominate me as precinct chair. I pointed out that I was extremely busy, a newcomer on the block and there must be someone better. She persisted. She didnít tell me at the time, but apparently there was a 50-50 split between "liberal" Republicans and "conservative" Republicans and no one knew exactly what group I might represent.

As a former California Republican State Committeewoman, frankly I had a hard time figuring out who was conservative and who was liberal in Utah. I ended up winning the election as Precinct chair handily, although all the other votes were 50-50 ties.

I was soon to discover that there were a lot of people in my precinct who wanted someone more "conservative" than our Congressman Chris Cannon who has a near perfect conservative voting record in Congress and became a major spokesman for the Impeachment Managers in the House during the impeachment of President Bill Clinton.

In fact, the person who nominated me as precinct chair was one of those who wanted someone more conservative than Rep. Cannon. A day or two after my election she called me and said, "Mary, I was talking to someone who tells me you are a liberal. Are you a liberal or a conservative?"

This is a question Iíve been asked off and on for over 50 years. Iíve always been a person who looks for the facts, and then I decide my position based on the facts. Actually, I donít know what my opinion is on a new issue until I track down the facts, which one rarely can find merely by reading newspapers or listening to TV or Radio. One thing I learned working with talk show hosts over the years was that they talk about what is reported in the news. Since the news often either doesnít report the facts, or is giving opinions as facts, it often doesnít make a lot of difference which side you take, since both sides are based on inaccurate information.

Facts are not liberal or conservative. They are just reality. What you THINK about the facts can be either liberal or conservative and people can really get emotional about those opinions. In talking to people in my precinct who opposed Rep. Cannon I would ask them what votes he cast in Congress they disagreed with. Not one of them could think of a thing. Their opposition was not based on facts which, frankly, they didnít have. Some of their negative opinions were based on inaccurate stories in the news.

Then along came the May 2002 Utah State Caucus where all the candidates made speeches telling precinct chairs and other delegates why we should support them. I knew that other delegates in my precinct were planning to vote for a different candidate. If none of the candidates got 60% of the vote of the delegates at the State Caucus, there would be a primary battle. If one candidate got 60%, he or she would be the candidate for the party.

I knew Cannon would not get 60% of the vote in my precinct as we went into that Caucus. However, when it came time for Rep. Chris Cannon to speak, he said a few words and then showed a video to the audience. On that video was Utahís very popular Rep. Jim Hansen, who was not running for re-election, urging us to send Chris back to Congress because if we didnít, there would be no experienced Republican in the Utah Congressional delegation.

Then a larger than life President George W. Bush appeared on the screen, looking directly at the camera. He told us earnestly that he needed Chris and to please send him back to help him implement his agenda.

That video changed votes. Chris Cannon received about 67% of the votes of the Caucus. I suspect that was not the only video President Bush made for candidates he knew would vote for the Bush Agenda. The media didnít see or never reported the months of Bush campaigning. They just reported on some of the last days of his support for candidates.

The second factor in the Republican victory in November was a campaign headed by Attorney General John Ashcroft to cut down on the massive amount of voter fraud that took place during the 1990s elections. In fact, Democratic National Chairman Terry McAuliffe called Ashcroft's efforts a "coordinated strategy to intimidate voters and suppress the vote of minority voters." However, it appears that fewer dead people and illegal aliens voted in areas where Ashcroft sent Justice Department Civil Rights Division attorneys to monitor the election.

The third factor was a large turnout of voters, which for the first time included a high turnout of voters under thirty. Younger voters are becoming increasingly better informed because they do not read newspapers or watch network news. They tend to get their information off the Internet and know they can go to the source of the news. The Bush Administration, for example, posts verbatim transcripts of speeches, press conferences, briefings, radio addresses, etc, not only on the White House website, but also on websites for cabinet members.

The November election was not really a Republican Party victory. It was a communications victory and this time voters backed a majority of Republican voters. As the older generation dies off and the new, more skeptical information age generation gets more involved, real time information, not opinion, will determine who wins and who loses.

To comment:



Mary Mostert was writing professionally on political issues as a teen-ager in Memphis, Tennessee in the 1940s. In the 1960s, she wrote a weekly column for the Rochester Times Union, a Gannett paper and was one of 52 American women who attended the 17 Nation Disarmament Conference in Geneva, Switzerland to ban testing of nuclear bombs in the atmosphere. She was a licensed building contractor for 29 years, as she raised her six children. She served an 18 month mission as Public Affairs Director for the Africa Area for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in 1990-91. In the 1990s she wrote a book, Coming Home, Families Can Stop the Unraveling of America, edited the Reagan Monthly Monitor and talk show host Michael Reagan’s Information Interchange for seven years. She now operates the website, Banner of Liberty.

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For more of Mary's articles, visit her archives.

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