by Samuel James

Letter to Bruce

Dear Congressman Bruce Poliquin,

My name is Samuel James. I am a writer here in Maine. I recently saw the video you released on Facebook in which you speak of the role of ranked-choice voting in this year’s election. I have three observations/suggestions that may be useful to you for your next video.

1.) The video is too long. At nearly 11 minutes, it’s far too long. You made this for the Internet, a medium that demands attention spans be nowhere near as long as 11 minutes.

2.) I hate to be so blunt, but you need new writers. I’m sure whoever wrote the script for your video is a very nice person, but you need writers who will help you play to your strengths.

For example, throughout the video you talk yourself up. You say you “fight like heck” and that you have a “strong and effective voice.” You talk about how hard you work and how you’re “driven by doing what’s right.” You’ll pardon me if this seems rude, and please understand that I’m only talking optics when I say you just don’t have the demeanor for that kind of speech. Some people seem perfectly natural when speaking about their positive traits, but unfortunately, you do not.

Your eyes are darting around throughout the video, and there are several moments when you shift in your seat or cough jarringly or swallow very pronouncedly just as you’re speaking about your admirable attributes. These actions undermine your words, and the conflict between your words and actions makes you seem insincere and untrustworthy. Again, just speaking in terms of optics here, but you’re not someone who exudes strength or nobility. Nothing about you really seems particularly brave or heroic. When people meet you for the first time, they probably don’t feel safe or protected. Good writers can help you draw attention away from these unpreventable impressions.

Here’s another example of writing that could be improved: “We know the good people of Maine’s 2nd District re-elected me to Congress by the constitutionally legal one-person, one-vote system …” There are several reasons you shouldn’t have said this. One of them is that it isn’t true — that wasn’t the system used in your particular race. Imagine you’re playing baseball. You’re at bat. The pitcher pitches, but instead of swinging the bat at the ball, you drop the bat and catch the ball, run as far into the outfield as you can, spike the baseball, yell “Touchdown!” and start demanding your six points. An umpire begins explaining to you that, first of all, baseball uses runs, not points, but you can’t hear him because you’ve already kicked the baseball into the stands and now you’re demanding seven points. Better writers could save you from making such an agonizingly embarrassing statement.

There’s also the part when you say the reason you refuse to accept the outcome of the election is because to do so “would absolutely send the wrong message to our kids.” I hate that this needs to be said, but you need a writer who knows that children are in absolutely no way interested in your loss to Congressman-elect Jared Golden.

There’s an especially long sequence, about halfway through the video, during which you begin by talking about Veterans Day, continue by making several wildly inaccurate statements about American and world history, and then end with the implication that electing you was the only way to honor fallen soldiers. Obviously there are several enormous problems with this, not the least of which is that your opponent, Congressman-elect Golden, actually served as a marine. Again, good writers could help you avoid such calamitous damage to your previous reputation as a relatively sane man of average intelligence.

3.) The final thing I noticed that may be useful for your next video is that it’s helpful to be aware of context. You say at one point, “There will be some loud political activists who say that I’m concerned about this vote-counting matter because I might lose the rank-vote count. That’s simply not true.” The context here is that the people of Maine voted for ranked-choice voting two years ago, but you’ve only taken issue with it since Congressman-elect Golden’s victory over you. Again, optically speaking, this makes you look like the most insufferable of whiners, and competent writers could save you from these humiliating self-degradations.

In closing, please know that come January, wherever your new career path takes you, should it require writers, I am available for hire and consultation at competitive rates. My contact info is below.

As ever,


Samuel James is an internationally renowned bluesman and storyteller, as well as a locally known filmmaker. He can be reached at racismsportland@gmail.com.