After news broke that a group called Common Sense Issues was behind those stupid pro-Huckabee push polls, I got a sharply-worded email about it.
"Please stop your telephone push-poll--it's probably illegal--you are not doing your organization any favors," the email read.
This confusion arose because I run an organization called NH Common Sense. Our website is NHCommonSense.org. After I replied with a confused email, my correspondent realized her mistake and expressed her concern that our organization's name would be sullied by association with Common Sense Issues.
I appreciated the heads-up, but somehow I wasn't too worried. NH Common Sense is short for New Hampshire Coalition for Common Sense Marijuana Policy, and when we graded the presidential primary candidates for our "Anti-Prohibitionist Candidate Report Card," Huckabee received a solid F. (This article and video will show you why.) Could people, beyond their initial confusion, really get the idea that a marijuana policy reform organization could be push-polling for Huckabee?
All this begs the question: what is common sense, anyway?
For Thomas Paine, it was common sense (or rather, Common Sense ) that the so-called divine right of kings was fundamentally illegitimate. For NH Common Sense, it's common sense that responsible use of a simple plant, one less harmful than alcohol or tobacco, should be legal. And for Common Sense Issues, what apparently passes for common sense is not only the notion that Mike Huckabee ought to be president, but that push-polling New Hampshire voters is a sensible way to bring about such a result.
So perhaps the definition of "common sense" is a little unsettled, but we can agree that being perceived as a person who possesses it is of paramount importance. Frank Luntz (love him or hate him) summed this up very well in his book, Words That Work:
"Common sense" is not just the best argument for almost any policy prescription you might propose -- it's essential. If you win and occupy the rhetorical territory owned by "common sense," your position will be virtually unassailable.
So, to clarify... push-polling New Hampshire voters only ticks them off, and isn't common sense. Marijuana policy reform, on the other hand, is about as common sense as you can get.
Don't you think Thomas Paine would agree?