It is so hard to find out what our candidates really stand for. So much of our campaigning consists of little more than candidates, with liberal assistance of outside organizations hiding behind noble names, running commercials demonizing each other.

Shouldn’t there be SOMEPLACE voters can find out how candidates have really voted on issues? Shouldn’t there be SOMEPLACE where voters tired of commercials that only manipulate them rather than inform them can go for facts, not half-truths and innuendos often delivered by an honors graduate of Smarm School?

There is such a place. Unfortunately too many candidates and their political parties have taken a gutless approach to cooperating. The organization is Project Vote Smart.

A list of the founders and honorary founders includes Presidents Jimmy Carter and Gerald Ford, alogn with George McGovern and Barry Goldwater, Michael Dukakis and Bill Frist, Newt Gingrich and Pat Schroeder.

The Missourinet has worked with the organization for many years as it selects specific bills and records the way members of the legislature and Missouri’s members of Congress voted. It makes that information available to the voters through its website

Every campaign year, Project Vote Smart mails out its Political Courage Test to thousands of candidates. It asks a simple, basic first question: “Are you willing to tell citizens where you stand on issues you may face if elected?” If a candidate says “yes,” PVS then asks them to address some key issues. The questions are written by more than 200 political scientists, journalists, and leaders of major and minor political parties.

In campaign after campaign, large numbers of candidates refuse to take part. That includes many Missouri candidates. Why? They tell us it’s because they get so many forms from so many organizations asking their positions on issues that they don’t have the time to fill all of them out.

They do have time to raise money to run more commercials, however.

Project Vote Smart says it has learned through the years that a big factor in candidates’ refusal to take part in the survey is the political parties. PVS says political parties often discourage their candidates from going on the record with their clearly-stated opinions on issues. You don’t want to give your opponent ammunition, they argue.

What about giving VOTERS the information?

PVS released its survey of Ohio candidates a few days ago. Almost two-thirds of the Ohio congressional candidates refused to take part in the Political Courage Test. Two-thirds.

It takes no courage for a candidate to paint his or her opponent in the worst colors possible. It takes no courage to let outside groups masquerading under noble names be your attack dogs while you wash your hands Pilate-like of their activities. It takes no courage to avoid clearly stating what you believe.

PVS mailed out its surveys to Missouri candidates for congress and the legislature on August 11. The deadline for returning them is Wednesday. That’s plenty of time for Missouri’s candidate to figure out what they stand for and to answer the survey questions.

We’ll find out in a few weeks which Missouri candidates are unafraid to go on the record with voters. And we’ll find out who the gutless ones are. The Missourinet will post the names in both categories on this web page.

There’s one other thing.

Project Vote Smart’s staff and volunteers have been spending thousands of hours independently examining factual records of each candidate on a dozen key issues. The group will include results of its research under its listing of candidates, even those who lack the courage and forthrightness to go on the record with those they’re asking for votes and money. Voters will be able to go the Project Vote Smart web page and get information those candidates lacked the courage to provide.

‘You have courage, ‘ they tell me.
It’s not true. I was never courageous.
I simply felt it unbecoming
to stoop to the cowardice of my colleagues.

–Yevgeny Yevtushenko

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