Op-Eds and Letters to the Editor (LTEs) Tips
- Op-Eds usually have a word limit of 500 - 800 words, so to be safe shoot for < 700
- LTEs usually have a word maximum of 150-300 words, so to be safe shoot for <250
- Messages with relevance to a specific and current local issue, and personal stories, are often favored
- Be informative without using jargon--it should be easily understood by everyone
- Be passionate but not inflammatory...use diplomatic language
- Don’t forget to include your name, town, and phone number
- BE CONCISE!
Do We Have a Democracy?
With the election upcoming, my friends and I have attended several debates—and although we submitted the same question repeatedly, it rarely got asked. This is ironic, since our question is what will be done to restore our democracy. Yet, this doesn’t surprise us--most New Hampshirites know America no longer has a government that answers to its People.
A Princeton study proved it: America is no longer a democracy, but a plutocracy—rule by the wealthy elite. The study demonstrated definitively that policies end up reflecting the wishes of the tiny fraction of the country that makes substantial political contributions—not of the voters.
We already suspected this. Ninety-six percent of Americans want to reduce the influence of money in politics. We feel that our legislators care only about their donors, who they spend 70% of their time courting—even if their donors are not constituents, or now thanks to superPACs, even outside the country, effectively. Election spending is higher than ever because legislators are for-sale more than ever.
So my friends want to ask candidates what will be done about it. Our question is overlooked because moderators have a hot-topic agenda—things like healthcare, national security, spending, the environment, and net neutrality, for example. But these issues, and many more, come back to this: industries that invest in candidates in order to get profitable policies.
We cannot make healthcare policies that benefit everyone, rein-in spending, or ensure an open internet—as long as most political contributions come from the corporations that profit from expensive insurance plans, receiving government giveaways, or monopolizing information access.
We learn in school that democracy dies without a well-informed public. So it is incumbent upon the “fourth branch”—the press—to show people, who already sense the corruption of money-politics, that how we conduct elections is at the heart of every other issue. The press must stress that business should mind its business—which is making profit within the confines of the law—and remind us that it is the business of the citizenry alone, according to the Constitution, to direct the making of law.
Join the ‘Rebellion’ to return government to the People
Sample Letter to the Editor:
To The Daily Sun,
Right after the recent election, Kentucky Senator Mitch McConnell said, "We (the senate) haven't seen an energy bill in seven years."
Where has he been? Senators Jeanne Shaheen and Rob Portman (R-OH) drafted an energy efficiency bill co-sponsored by Senator Ayotte which was designed to help businesses and governments cut energy costs through increased efficiency. Opponents succeeded in killing the bill!
Senator McConnell also claimed there is widespread opposition to the EPA rule to reduce carbon pollution from power plants. The fact is, there's widespread SUPPORT. Seventy- percent of Americans support the Clean Power Plan, and exit polling showed that 6 in 10 voters believe climate change is an important issue.
So McConnell can grandstand on pollution all he wants, but he's just blowing smoke. The American people want action on climate change, not more obstruction from deniers in Congress. Blocking climate action and public health protections don't make sense to anyone except to the Big Oil Funders of so many of our Congress members' election campaigns. This is one of the many outcomes of our "whatever big money can buy" corrupt system of campaign financing. When will we get a handle on this system?
If Laconia Daily Sun readers are interested in speaking up against the corruption of big money in politics, the force that creates this kind of irresponsible denial and lack of action in Washington, I suggest that they look into a N.H. grassroots organization dedicated to campaign finance reform. Join the effort to return our government to the people: It's The N.H. Rebellion at www.nhrebellion.org.
Time to Rebel Against Big Money in Politics
One month from now, a band of “Granny D walkers” will put on their boots in Dixville Notch and take to the road in a New Hampshire rebellion against big money in politics.
One week later, walkers will join the N.H. Rebellion in Portsmouth, Nashua and Keene, taking inspiration from New Hampshire’s late legendary reformer Doris “Granny D” Haddock, who walked cross-country at age 90 for campaign finance reform.
From Jan. 11 to 21, hundreds of walkers will log thousands of miles touching hundreds of thousands of fellow citizens with one simple message: We, the People, are not for sale. They will walk through sun, snow and sleet – and sleep in churches, homes and motels – until they arrive in Concord.
On Jan. 21, the walkers will converge on the State House to raise their voices in a unison declaration of independence from big money in politics.
Their cause is as old, and as bold, as our own state constitution. Adopted in its first iteration on Jan. 5, 1776 – six months before the Declaration of Independence was signed in Philadelphia – the New Hampshire Constitution declares in no uncertain terms that government is “instituted for the common benefit, not for the private interests or emolument of any one man or class of men.” Their grievance is shared by the vast majority of American citizens, in New Hampshire and beyond.
Five years after the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision opened the floodgates to unlimited political spending, elections for public office have become a private good. Here in New Hampshire, the 2014 midterm set a staggering, sobering new trend. Close to $100 million was spent on state and congressional races, most of it coming from out-of-state interests who care little for our people. Of the roughly $60 million that was spent on the Senate contest alone, the majority of dollars came from a handful of “independent” spenders, many of them undisclosed.
Even money raised by the candidates themselves was grossly unrepresentative of the public at large. A fraction of one percent of Americans provided the lion’s share of campaign funds in 2014 giving amounts that few of us can fathom to buy access and influence in politics.
The money is not well spent in the eyes of most voters. As anyone within earshot of a TV can attest, 2014 ranked as the most negative election in state history, with some 90 percent of all ads aired against one candidate or another. To the special interests, however, such contributions are found to provide a hefty return on investment. One need look no further than our mangled tax code or generous subsidies for energy, agriculture, pharmaceutical and other entrenched industries.
The framers of New Hampshire’s constitution, like their counterparts at Philadelphia, strongly disapproved of any governmental arrangement that favoured “one man or class of men” – but they didn’t stop there.
Article 10 of the state constitution goes one step further: “Whenever the means of government are perverted, and public liberty manifestly endangered . . . the people may, and of right ought to reform the old, or establish a new government.” That is precisely what the N.H. Rebellion intends peacefully to do.
In short order, the presidential candidates will be traveling to New Hampshire to court our votes. They will tell us that energy and the environment, taxes and trade, health care and housing, education and the economy, deficits and the national debt are pressing public concerns.
As a bipartisan band of citizens, we agree.
But there is another, prior problem that cannot be ignored. In fact, our ability as a nation to meet the many challenges we face hinges on our ability to address this fundamental issue once and for all: the corrupting influence of big money in politics.
As such, we welcome the candidates to our state on one condition: that they pledge to stop big money on day one.
New Hampshire may not speak for the nation on every issue, but on this issue of systemic corruption, the vast majority of Americans are aligned – 96 percent, to be precise, according to a recent survey. Yet 91 percent doubt that meaningful reform is possible anytime soon.
We intend to prove them wrong – with their help.
We call on every citizen who is concerned about the state of our republic to join our N.H. Rebellion against big money in politics and walk with us – for a mile, a day, or all the way. Our future as a great nation is at stake.
Sample Press Release:
(similar guidelines apply to press releases/advisories as op-eds and LTEs, but you want to be more informative and have a more journalistic tone, and it usually includes quotes...this is a notification of an event)
Contact: [_Name, Email and Phone_]
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
HUNDREDS MARCH THROUGH SNOW TO END POLITICAL CORRUPTION
300-mile New Hampshire Rebellion March to Educate Public and Presidential Candidates About Reforming Money in Politics
Portsmouth, NH - On Sunday, January 18th, dozens of rugged "Granny D walkers" will set out from downtown Portsmouth to commence a four-day, 50-mile walk through the ice and snow to Concord, to join hundreds more of their ilk who have traversed the four corners of the state in order to raise awareness of the corrupting influence big money has in our political system.
From January 11 to 21, hundreds of reform-minded citizens will brave the elements and walk across New Hampshire in a frigid “New Hampshire Rebellion" against big money in politics. Walkers from across New Hampshire and across the country will start at Dixville Notch in the north, Nashua in the south, Keene in the west, and Portsmouth in the east. They will converge together at the State House in Concord on January 21st, the fifth anniversary of the infamous Citizens United Supreme Court decision, which opened the floodgates for outside political spending on both the left and the right, and allowed the existence of so-called "super PACs".
The Portsmouth route will kick off from South Church in Portsmouth at 8:00 am on January 18th, and District 21 State Senator Martha Fuller Clark, as well as her Republican opponent in the recent election Newmarket Town Councillor Phil Nazzaro will both speak at the Kickoff event in support of the cause.
The Portsmouth leg of the massive walk will traverse the towns of Portsmouth, Newington, Dover, Durham, Lee, Barrington, Nottingham, Northwood, Epsom, Chichester, Pembroke, and Concord.
Wearing orange vests and carrying "Rebellion" signs, the walkers will log between 8 and 20 miles per day through winter weather that is projected to stay below freezing for much of the march. They are relying on local churches, volunteers, and non-profits for housing and food, and will hold an event free and open to the public every night.
On the evening of January 18, the walkers will gather at the Community Church of Durham to enjoy a community dinner and hear guest speaker UNH Campus Chaplain Larry Brickner- Wood as well as view the play Granny D: The Power of One by Dixie and John Tymitz.
There will be an MLK Day Celebration at the Northwood Congregational Church the following evening of January 19, which will include a potluck dinner, church service, speaking and music by Blues & Jazz musician TJ Wheeler, and a presentation of the play Go, Granny D! by Barbara Bates-Smith and Jeff Sebens.
A presentation by Hedrick Smith, author of Who Stole The American Dream? and an activist training session will be features at the evening event at Epsom Public Library in Epsom on January 20th.
Details about these local events can be found on the New Hampshire Rebellion website, at nhrebellion.org.
On January 21st, the marches will converge on the State House in Concord for a major rally declaring to the 2016 presidential candidates that New Hampshire voters are “Not for Sale.” Plans for the day-long event in Concord include a wide range of presentations, interactive activities, education, a celebration of Granny D's birthday, and guest speakers--including Ben Cohen, founder of Ben and Jerry's Ice Cream, and Larry Lessig, Harvard Law professor and noted expert and author on the issue of money in politics.
“We are deeply concerned that elections are being bought and paid for by a handful of private interests looking out for themselves--not the American people,” said Daniel Weeks, Executive Director of Open Democracy in Concord. “As the first-in-the-nation primary state, we are putting the presidential candidates on notice that NH voters are sick and tired of outside interests spending millions to influence our elections. We're walking across NH to demand the next president commit to reforming this corrupt system on day one."
“The growth of this movement in New Hampshire shows that people across the state from every political background are taking a stand to stop systemic corruption in politics,” said Jeff McLean, Director of the NH Rebellion. “The demand on candidates to spend the majority of their time raising money from narrow interests increases polarization and leads to the dysfunction of Congress and its historically low level of public approval. It is time we take on this root issue.”
Founded by scholar-activist Lawrence Lessig, the NH Rebellion march is inspired by the “rebellion clause” of the New Hampshire Constitution, which calls on citizens "to reform the old or establish a new government” when laws serve a privileged few rather than “the common benefit, protection, and security of the whole community.”
Professor Lessig and other marchers are seeking to continue the work of the late New Hampshire reformer Doris “Granny D” Haddock, whose historic cross-country walk for campaign finance reform at the age of 90 helped spark a citizens movement to pass the McCain-Feingold Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002.
"The New Hampshire Rebellion cuts across party lines to champion fundamental reforms that are needed to save our state and our country," added former Republican gubernatorial candidate Andrew Hemingway, a member of the NH Rebellion. "It is time for New Hampshire citizens to rise up with one voice and demand clean elections, ethical fundraising, and a reversal of what big money and partisan politics have wrought on our Democracy."
NH Rebellion is part of Open Democracy, the Concord-based nonpartisan reform organization founded by legendary NH hero Granny D. To learn more about the NH Rebellion, please visit: www.nhrebellion.org. To register for the walk please visit: walk.nhrebellion.org. To see details about the planned events, visit You can also follow us on Twitter @nhrebellion and on Facebook at: facebook.com/ nhrebellion.