Your Advice, Please

We hit our first two debates in the Birmingham race I am managing last night. Bodenhausen did fairly well in the first one, and significantly better in the second one. It was mostly an issue of the candidate getting over the jitters and regaining that competitive campaign composure in the first debate. In the second debate, he did well except for one blown answer opportunity — but we have that problem fixed now.

There are six candidates in the race. The incumbent has used eminent domain to bring a new Wal-Mart to town in the very same district in which we are campaigning. We managed to turn a general debate into one primarily about eminent domain.

In debate one, Bodenhausen spoke first, and in his first three minute block he hammered away on eminent domain. Following Bodenhausen was the most conservative of the remaining candidates. Although we have inside information to the contrary, this forced that candidate to join the “Yea, Me Too!” club. The conservative-leaning candidate stated, “I absolutely agree with Bodenhausen on using eminent domain to the benefit of private developement.”

The topic came up a few more times in the first debate. During the second debate, it came up more often, and was used to some degree by all the candidates there to challenge the incumbent’s record. Responding to the applause we drew, even the most liberal of our opposition saw and seized upon the opportunity to torment the incumbent on this issue.

The problem is that the incumbent drew applause, too. She has a great, snappy response to the issue — which we need to overcome. She used it both times to great effect, improving upon it the second time. It goes something like this: “… [same old blah, blah, blah lines about economic development and job creation you’ve certainly heard countless times]. I’m proud of what I have accomplished and stand on my record. Anyway, we only used eminent domain one time, against a bookstore selling pornography.”

Both times she used this line, she drew a lot of applause. She doesn’t have to use her remaining time after that line, and promptly sits down.

To the best of my knowledge, she is technically correct. Most of the businesses that were relocated did so “voluntarily” because they were forced to do so. An article pertaining to this same case provides:

“Chris Curran, owner of Spuds Pub, told the newspaper that the city has put a gun to owners’ heads. “Anybody who has been signing contracts with Wal-Mart is signing under duress,” Curran said. “That means: Here’s our contract, sign it and if you don’t sign it, we’ll take it. … They (city officials) just want a trophy, and they don’t mind pushing us out of the way to have that trophy.”

I don’t normally cross-post blog entries on the various sites where I write, but in this case, I’m going to make an exception. We have another debate in just a few hours, and I’d like to get as many ideas as possible on how to defeat the incumbent’s most effective line. Especially a sound-byte which combines brevity and impact. Ideas?

Stephen Gordon

I like tasteful cigars, private property, American whiskey, fast cars, hot women, pre-bailout Jeeps, fine dining, worthwhile literature, low taxes, original music, personal privacy and self-defense rights -- but not necessarily in this order.

  1. The line.

    I’m proud of what I have accomplished and stand on my record. Anyway, we only used eminent domain one time, against a bookstore selling pornography.

    The response.

    Ahhh, but what do you do when there is no more pornography? Most likely, you’ll want to get rid of all establishments which only bring in a trivial amount of tax dollars. Well, my church is a non-profit organization. Are you going to take away my church? You might say “no no. We’d never do that”, but you could. And because you can, I have to live in fear that you will if whoever is elected at the time just doesn’t like me.

    it could be mad shorter/snappier, but the whole point is to turn it around on them to show that they can then take away other things (bars, YMCA, VFW, etc). All you have to do is strike a chord. People are generally against porn shops, but they might think a little differently if the knew you could take away other things.


  2. Two key problems, though.

    1) Most people have some knee-jerk opposition to porn stores in their own neighborhoods.

    2) There is not enough time in 30 seconds to defend the right of people to own a porn shop. Even if there was, it will be reported and remembered in a 7 second blurb. Her seven seconds trumps libertarian principle in the polling place.

  3. Well, in that case, you’re screwed no matter what you do. All the person has to do is pick one position in which 60% of the people agree with and you’re toast. If you retort with “well, they’ll come after you next!”, then they’ll just deny and smile.

    It’s unfortunate that libertarian ideals cannot be sound bited or emotionalized easily without sounding tin-foil hat’ish.

    I guess the only way you can turn it around is by saying “well, if you all really want to get rid of the porn stores, you all should stop shopping there! I refuse to support a band aid approach lime eminent domain just because you lack the will power”.

    unfortunately, this will put them on the defensive, and you’re screwed again.

  4. Ms. (So-And-So-Incumbent name here) likes to claim that she’s only used eminent domain against one porn shop. How does she respond to Chris Curran, owner of Sports Pub, who stated in (___ article) that the city is putting a gun to all the business owners’ heads, and they are being forced to sign under duress or else Ms. So-And-So and her cohorts will take away their livelihoods? If So-And-So incumbent is re-elected, we’ll be sending the message that we approve of her and the city’s bullying of citizens. And in the future, they’ll have free reign to take away peoples’ businesses, homes, anything they want for any reason they want! Then we come to the short soundbite portion that could be quoted in the newspaper or played on radio/tv: “We need to draw the line in the sand right here and right now, and say NO to (her name)’s bullying and NO to eminent domain in (insert city)!”

    Does that come close?

  5. I posted something similar to Jon’s comment over at LFS. The best working idea I have so far is:

    Here is a concept for something following the incumbent. I’d prefer something a bit more pre-emptive, though.


    Of all places, Birmingham is proud of our diversity and tolerance. The civil rights movement was born upon our very streets.

    When one makes a decision about which sort of business is more important to the consumer and the business owner, they are practicing discrimination. In this case, my opponent placed (insert exact number) 32 parcels of land on the back of the eminent domain bus — not merely the one business which she claims.

    Remember where Spuds Pub used to be. Chris Curran, the owner, perhaps said it best with:

    “Anybody who has been signing contracts with Wal-Mart is signing under duress. That means: Here’s our contract, sign it and if you don’t sign it, we’ll take it. … They (city officials) just want a trophy, and they don’t mind pushing us out of the way to have that trophy.”

    It is imperative that we immediately end the practice of placing our locally owned businesses on the back of the bus by use of the force and threat of emient domain.

    I’m Mark Bodenhausen, and I’d like your vote on October 11. Vote Bo!

  6. Everyone claims innocence in public, and craves decadence in private. Nation of apathy is a correct term. We accept… even when the lie is blatant, or perhaps obviously obfuscated.

    We believe

    Walmart was built destroying small towns… on to the big cities, small neighborhoods and housing projects!

    “GOD” can’t take care of ALL of the underpriviledged housing!

    *BTW, this is not a suggestion… merely a comment.

    A suggestion? Perhaps…

    “Well isn’t it nice of you to come down from on high and set a social standard for us. I really do appreciate it. I personally would have been utterly lost without your asistance in choosing my path for me. It is horrible to think of all the fun I would have had with my girlfriend/boyfriend. Now I can grow up proper and accept without question.”

  7. You need to badly paraphrase her response, and bring it to the absurd truth…

    “We only used eminent domain once so far, and we were able to practice censorship that way too!”
    Is this the sort of person you want representing you? Someone who will use “any means necessary” and is proud of it?