I’m pretty disgusted with politics. But that’s nothing new.
Let me put in a little disclaimer that I am about as far from an expert on political science as it is possible to be. Someone starts talking politics and my most frequent reaction is to leave the immediate area as soon as possible. I’m politically naive. I don’t watch Meet the Press, I don’t read The New York Times, and I’m not a Young (or old) Republican or Democrat. The following words are purely my opinions, a large dose of speculation and probably some misinterpretations. I’m okay with that.
Growing up in one of the most liberal Jewish households on the face of the earth, I proudly registered as a Democrat as soon as I turned eighteen. A scant 10 months later, amidst the nausea-inducing rigmarole surrounding the 1984 primaries, I saved my sanity by completely abandoning party politics and changing my preference to NPA – No Party Affiliation. I just didn’t want to be associated with any of the bozos that were running, or the political machines that were running them.
Not much has changed.
In the years since I’ve voted every which way, usually for the lesser of the presented evils, and have never regretted my decision to keep as far away from any political party as possible. I have most certainly gotten more conservative as I’ve gotten older, which was quite surprising to me. Perhaps I was more idealistic in my youth, perhaps I’ve gotten more fearful in the face of the world’s problems. Perhaps it’s that I see now the prices we are paying for some of the choices we made years ago. But I digress…
Living in Florida (Home of the Hanging Chad), I don’t get to vote in the primaries. Florida isn’t like New Hampshire, where they let you choose a party for the primary and then immediately (before you even leave the polling location) switch back to NPA. I’m not sure which way is sillier.
There are a few politically-related things that have been swimming around my brain that I want to put down on virtual paper.
The Electoral College
There are many arguments for and against the Electoral College. I don’t even really understand the complexities of this system. I’m sure there were good reasons for it at the time, but in our modern world I just don’t see the necessity.
Besides, I just can’t understand why the popular vote doesn’t decide the election winner. Even given the fact that many people really have no clue about the positions of the candidates (casting their vote based upon the candidate’s race, gender, the color of their eyes, what a pundit says, the order on the ballot or because Oprah or some other celebrity says so) it seems to me that it’s only fair if every American gets a vote, and majority rules.
But what do I know?
Anything to Get Elected
There are debates. There are public appearances. There are hundred-page-long platform papers. There are interviews. There are written question-and-answer articles. There are websites. There are phone calls and commercials. There are millions of words written by, for, and about the candidates.
The only problem is that it means little. The Washington Post profiled each of the major candidates (another topic I’ll cover), and asked each the same questions on the topics of Health Care, Social Security, Iraq, National Security, Energy, Immigration, Affirmative Action, Economy, Budget, Education, Gay Marriage, Abortion, Poverty, Gun Control, Stem Cell Research, and their Top Priorities. Terrific questions. Important questions.
After reading the profiles, Kate, in a post over at One More Thing, commented that the candidates don’t differ much, and she’s right. They don’t. The answers are snazzily produced and heavily edited. They say what they, and their political machines, think they need to say to get elected. My cynical self can’t help but wonder how far their actions if elected would differ from what’s coming out of their mouths on the campaign trail. How much they will compromise their own beliefs (if they even recall what they are) in the name of progress. And you and I know that they surely will.
The Candidates, The Debates and Media Coverage in General
Mike Gravel. Dennis Kucinich. Alan Keyes. Ron Paul. Rory Frank. Heather Johnson.
Did you know they were running for President? They’re Democrats and Republicans, and even if you’ve heard of them most don’t know they’re running this year.
I’d tell you to forget about William Hale, Albert Hamburg, Dennis Hanaghan, David Hollist, and Todd Clayton, but you can’t forget about people you’ve never heard of before. For all you know they could be porn stars. They are Presidential candidates. Really.
We know nothing about Independents, Green Party candidates and those with No Party Affiliation. The media completely ignores them. Except for Ralph Nader, of course.
Did you know that 252 people have formed or announced a Presidential exploratory or campaign committee with the Federal Election Commission or filed a statement of candidacy? Two hundred fifty-two. Yowza.
I’ll bet 90 percent of the country doesn’t. That’s due, in large part, to the media almost completely ignoring anyone who isn’t Red or Blue, or has enough money to buy their way into coverage like Ross Perot and Michael Bloomberg.
Televised debates are only for the top candidates. Last week Ron Paul was not permitted to take part in Fox News’ Republican candidate debate, and he’s not the first. Fox isn’t the only news organization choosing who can participate, who can get the type of media exposure necessary to contend. Where do you draw the line – and who should draw it?
Don’t even get me started on the liberal slant the major networks have steadily moved towards over the past twenty years. Media executives broadcast and story decisions are slanted based on their own truths, their own political views, and what will bring in the most money. Liberal? NBC is for you. Conservative? Fox News or AM radio will be your source. Conspiracy theorist? There’s a zillion websites for you, my husband’s brethren.
Whatever happened to objective journalism? Is it even possible for it to exist? Did it ever?
Responsible voters will learn as much as possible and make the most informed choice they can. It’s our responsibility to do so. Words cannot describe my frustration with people who…don’t. I’m not saying you must spend three hundred hours researching, I’m just saying please don’t choose based on whim.
Sigh. I’ll stop talking. For now.