Tuesday, July 7, 2015

An open letter to chief N&O political reporter Rob Christensen

Dear Rob,

Your Sunday, July 5 column—Obama wants me to send $3—one would guess, was supposed to outline the many and constant financial solicitations you receive from political candidates and parties thereof every six months or so as the campaign finance reporting dates near. But your line about not voting in anything except municipal elections came across as rather disgusting. To me, even though you probably abstain from primaries and partisan elections to keep anyone from knowing your candidate and party favorites, your lack of voting participation reduces your credibility as a political reporter. Just because you are a reporter does not mean you should shirk your responsibility and throw away one of your rights and privileges as a citizen of the United States and of North Carolina.

As a political reporter, columnist and author, you should embrace the election process and participate openly, but you prefer to try to hide behind your keyboard in deference to your job. That’s a terrible example you set, Rob. While the job is important for many reasons, you’re placing it above your responsibility to your country and state. It’s doubtful your employer encourages you not to cast ballots for national, state and local partisan elections since your publisher and your executive editor both are good citizens, voting in primaries and general elections nearly every time one comes about. We already know of your unaffiliated voter registration (unaffiliated is okay; nearly a third of all registered North Carolinians are unaffiliated) and lack of participation in the election of our government officials other than those in the Town of Cary elections. It was written about it in this space in mid-March: "Unaffiliated" voter registration seems to be the norm at The N&O

Two things for you to ponder:

1.   Voting is an important part of being a citizen of this country, and unfortunately many who have a legal form of identification (if needed) and who have transportation to the polls do not participate, shirking their responsibility. And, then there is you who, as a reporter, willingly criticizes lawmakers who make it harder for citizens to cast ballots. And you do so from the sidelines and not as an engaged participant. For that you should feel shame and ashamed, though you probably do not. You’re probably proud that you do not openly root, support and vote for your favorite party and candidates. It’s time you came out of the election closet and participate openly, painting your political preferences with the broad strokes of your excellent prose on politics.

2.  While your statement is true that you have not voted in anything but municipal elections in this century (which started January 1, 2001), please go back further and tell your readers that in the year 2000, you voted in the Democratic primary and in the general election, and that you voted in other primary and general elections prior to that since registering to vote, even while a political reporter: H.Robert Christensen, Jr., voting record

Come on Rob, be a full citizen and participate by voting in primaries and general elections. It's hypocritical that you're a political reporter yet you do not fully participate in the political system. You have the right to participate or not, but it's a privilege and duty that even you should not avoid. It’s past time news reporters and columnists—especially political and sports reporters and columnists—tell the readers where their loyalties are. Newspapers are supposed to avoid bias and opinion on the news pages, but openly informing the readers of your preferences would give us better insight about what you are saying and why. You should lead the way, setting an example for other writers and for the millions who are not political reporters who refuse to exercise the right to vote and to have a direct impact on elections and the results. You are setting a bad example now, but you have a chance to turn that around. If you lived in a country that didn’t allow you to vote, you would be screaming bloody murder just as you and other political reporters who do not vote do when laws are made restricting voting.

By the way, your opening line "I am feeling the power" is far from the truth, as is the line "The candidates think I am Mr. Money Bags." Unless you previously have donated to political parties or candidates or unless you are currently a registered member of one of the two main political parties (Democratic and Republican), you would not be receiving those solicitations except for one very important reason: You are the chief political reporter and columnist for The News & Observer, and those candidates and political parties included in your July 5 column (and those you left out) are simply using you to distribute their message. It worked.
Dictionary.com word of the day
fisc (noun) [fisk] a royal or state treasury; exchequer