This campaign season, dead people keep turning up in curious places.
Republican U.S. Senate candidate Max Linn had a bunch of corpses sign his nominating petitions, resulting in his disqualification from the ballot. And Democratic gubernatorial hopeful Betsy Sweet claims to have regular conversations with the dearly departed.
Since announcing her candidacy over a year ago, Sweet has done a credible job of appearing to be a normal person. Well, as normal a person as a lobbyist can be. She displayed a decent grasp of the issues, a workable sense of humor and an easily understandable agenda. In short, she did an excellent job of concealing her intrinsic weirdness.
Besides being a lobbyist, Sweet is also a therapist. According to her website, she offers “Tools for Joyful Living,” “Energy Balancing” and “mediumship readings.” Actually, that last one is no longer on her site, scrubbed from view sometime after she decided to run for office. But muckraker Crash Barry found it in a cache last week and spread the news around. For a mere 90 bucks, Sweet claimed to be able to put you in touch with the sort of somewhat decayed people who show up on Max Linn’s petitions.
According to the site, Sweet promises to contact “loved ones or guides” to aid in a person’s “healing and growth.”
It goes on to say, “After speaking with you for a bit about what is currently going on in your life I will ‘tune in’ and see what information is available to you. … I generally ‘see’ the person and feel their presence and then share their guidance with you. I do not ‘channel’ per se, nor do I consider myself ‘psychic’ – rather I serve as a conduit for the messages that guides and your loved ones want to get through to you.”
Sweet doesn’t claim any special powers, saying anyone could hear what she hears, “but we are discouraged from hearing it in our culture.” So, it’s sort of like trying to get legislators to listen to reason.
The service is available in person, by phone, Skype or Facetime. The dead recognize that reaching them needs to be as convenient as possible.
I spoke with Sweet by phone, not to reach out to friends in the great beyond, but to make sure this posting was real and accurately described the services she was offering. She told me she has a master’s degree in therapy and uses “a full range of methods to try and help people.” She said her $90 sessions were “not a seance kind of thing,” but rather an effort to help her clients get in touch with their “spiritual side.”
“We can access that in lots of different ways,” Sweet said. “All methods are very valid.”
But did she actually believe she was talking to the dead?
“I don’t want to talk about the details of what I do with my clients,” she said.
Which is uncomfortably close to the excuse Max Linn made after all those signatures of deceased folks were found on his petitions.
I know there are plenty of people who believe in this sort of thing, but I’m not one of them. It’s hard enough to contact customer service, let alone a customer-service representative who’s thrown off this mortal coil. I think virtually all mediums, like virtually all politicians, are con artists, preying on the weak and gullible. So, Sweet’s two professions have plenty of potential overlap.
I realize that by the time you read this you may already have voted. My late uncle, Pendergrass Fennwharton Oddsbottom III, has advised me (he has an email newsletter, so no medium is required) that Sweet is unlikely to win the Democratic primary, ranked-choice voting notwithstanding. If old Uncle Pendy is correct (he did hit the trifecta at the Belmont Stakes), then we don’t have to worry about Sweet running the state the way Nancy Reagan and her astrologer once tried to run the country.
But if he’s wrong (he once advised investing heavily in cold fusion), we need to give serious consideration to whether we want somebody in the Blaine House who’s communing with dead political scoundrels like Ralph Owen Brewster or deceased incompetents like James Longley Sr.
Because if advice from the dead becomes acceptable in state government, it’s only a matter of time before we’re going to have to allow them to sign Max Linn’s petitions.
Ask your long-buried friends what my computer password is, and email the answer to firstname.lastname@example.org.