We are roughly 100 days out from Election Day, a day that can’t come soon enough, in my opinion. Already, I have Presidential Campaign Fatigue—PCF in medical parlance—which means that I break into a cold sweat when I see a black and white photo of candidate X—be it the incumbent or his opponent—superimposed over a red background with a sonorous voice telling us how the candidate once approved the mass slaughter of a litter of kittens, all the while forcing us to buy health insurance, making billions of dollars, or cutting jobs at a rate consistent with the mating habits of common garden rodents.
Every day, we are hounded by reports of “gaffes” by one or the other Presidential candidates, anything that ranges from misidentifying the state bird of North Dakota to telling it like it is—as it was reported in the host country’s own tabs—when it comes to security at the Olympic Village. The gaffes may be of a political nature but I do know that most are inconsequential to the state of the Union. The wives of the candidates are no exception; one gets slammed for wearing a gorgeous—albeit expensive—jacket on an overseas jaunt while the other makes the mistake of saying “you people” when referring to, well, you people. (Personally, I think "you people" is a legitimate catchall but that may because I spend 50 hours alone every week in an attic.) It makes me wonder why anyone in their right mind would want to run for office, never mind allow their spouse to do so.
Are the days of true civility gone? According to a recent poll, 95% of Americans want civility in politics and 87% believe we can actually achieve that goal! Another 85% of Americans would love—LOVE!—it if their leaders could form friendships across the aisle. Seriously, how are we supposed to get along in a global economy and world if we can’t even stomach the guy sitting across from us, the guy we need to reach consensus with in order to legislate effectively? In doing research for this post, I now know that there are entire sites devoted to civility in politics but I guess the people who really need to look at these sites—our politicians—aren’t reading them or heeding their measured words.
I wonder, though, if the mud slinging became a thing of the past, would the idea of an informed decision take root? In other words, if we really knew what candidates stood for, without all of the noise and incivility, would we be able to make a decision that reflected what we actually knew and cared about in terms of each candidate? Because right now, here’s what I have been told about both candidates and their wives:
1. One is a socialist who wants to steal from the rich and give to the poor.
2. The other stole billions of dollars while working as a businessman and doesn’t think that rich people should pay taxes at all. Oh, and he strapped his Irish setter to the top of his car and drove to Canada.
3. If you don’t have anyone to blame in an argument, you can go with either George W. Bush or Bill Clinton.
4. One’s wife is a wealthy woman who likes to ride horses and is against all working moms.
5. The other’s wife shops at Banana Republic sometimes but most of the time spends American’s hard-earned dollars on clothes.
I guess you could say that there is a scintilla of truth in every statement listed above but do any of them really tell the entire story of the person, their beliefs, their habits, or their ability to govern?
I read a lot. I watch a lot of television. And then I read some more. I happen to be working on a book right now that deals with the American political landscape which is fascinating because its “just the facts, ma’am” approach reminds me that the bedrock of our political system is solid and based on sound principles of philosophy specifically generated during the Age of Enlightenment. Based on what we hear and see these days, you’d think that the guy who wrote FIGHT CLUB had drafted the campaign strategies of both candidates.
So I guess my question is this: how do you tune out the “noise” of the campaign and make an informed decision come voting time? Or is your mind already made up?