Hoping to help voters cut through the "issueless crud" of campaign rhetoric, a newly formed national political organization has developed a program to provide voters with unbiased information on incumbent elected officials.
The organization, called the Center for National Independence in Politics, has designated Maryland as one of the program's eight test states and has developed the Maryland Voter's Self Defense Manual.
"The mudslinging and image tailoring of today's issueless campaigns are turning the voting booth into a crap shoot," Richard Kimball, director of CNIP, said yesterday.
Before each election, the CNIP will develop a manual for each state listing each incumbent candidate's biography, voting records and performance ratings according to a range of national organizations across the political spectrum. Also included will be the source of the candidates' Political Action Committee campaign funds.
In the Maryland Voter's Self Defense Manual, the state's two U.S. senators and the members of the House of Representatives are listed, along with the total amount they collected from PACs and the results of how they are rated by six groups.
Listed are ratings of the candidates by the American Conservative Union, Americans For Democratic Action, Chamber of Commerce, AFL-CIO, League Of Conservation Voters and the National Journal.
The CNIP was founded earlier this year by a number of prominent Democrats and Republicans, including former Presidents Ford and Carter, Barry Goldwater, George McGovern and William Proxmire.
Voters can obtain the manual for $3 by calling 900-820-CNIP (2647). A free additional pamphlet will be sent to any school or library that the voter requests.
Kimball said the manual provides voters with "blunt information about manipulative" campaign techniques and suggestions about how voters can defend themselves in the political marketplace.
He also said that voters will no longer be at the mercy of campaigns and special interest groups.
"How can we be expected to make the wise decisions so necessary for successful self-government if there is no useful discussion of society's problems?" Kimball said. "Out biggest burden is to prove that people are willing to fight back."