There are a lot of times that I wonder what is going on with politics these days. There is so much effort spent by candidates and their campaigns trashing opponents that it can drive you crazy. The real tragic problem with this is that little, if any, real substance is ever placed in front of voters. This may be deliberate, in my opinion, to prevent voters from educating themselves. Ill-informed voters are easier to manipulate with hot-button slogans and sound bites than an informed voter. And the results of this should be easy to see whenever reporters are interviewing attendees at politic rallies. These voters are excited about some candidate enough to come out and join in supporting them, but often can’t explain why they prefer them without using partisan rhetoric (the other guy is just evil) or repeating slogans and sound-bites. Recent political sound bites average less than eight seconds. (Warren) How the hell can you actually know anything about anything from a mere eight seconds of video and/or audio? People who attend speeches or read works written by candidates will likely have more information than those who don’t. But most people don’t attend speeches, rallies, read non-fiction by politicians, or research these topics in depth. And that, dear reader, is what allows the farcical political pageant to continue every election cycle.
“Make the opinion for yourself, are common media outlets covering the presidential election to inform you, or to entertain you?”
– Jacob Burton Warren
I see the current crop of candidates from both of the main political parties running for President of the United States and realize that I don’t really care for most of them. There seems to be an almost universal lack of integrity. Personally, I absolutely abhor liars, thieves, hypocrites, and cowards; ergo, I’m not a fan of most career politicians. Mud-slinging ad hominem statements abound on the airwaves. Answers about what someone will actually do once elected are scarce. I feel somewhat insulted at the lack of substance; as if I’m not capable of understanding what is what. And it seems that the candidates who actually want to answer questions and give substantive answers are shorted on the airwaves of mainstream media.
Now before anyone jumps to conclusions, I consider myself a moderate and independent. I am not aligned with either conservative or liberal ideals in general. Given a specific issue, I can say where I stand and what I believe about that one issue. Given another issue, I may be on a different end of the spectrum when it applies to that one issue. So, what I look to see is who lines up closest with how I’d like things to go in general. It’s highly unlikely that anyone would match up with each one of my views on different subjects; this is true for nearly everyone who has critically thought about what matters to them on a personal level. I am also not a “single issue voter” who determines who I support solely one issue knowing how disastrous they’ll be on other issues.
Another problem is that to make it through the primaries, most candidates end up staking themselves more towards the extremes of their party. These extremes are scarcely populated in general, but they are by far the most vocal. So the candidates typically end up sliding more and more to the right (or left) of the political spectrum throughout the primaries. And then comes the race for the general election. Now these candidates start trying to moderate the statements and positions on important issues because they realize that most voters are actually moderates and they’ll never win unless they can capture the middle ground. This leads to even further degradation in rhetoric as opponents accuse each other of “back tracking,” “lying,” or “flip-flopping” in a furious storm of sound bite and micro-quoted speeches in most political commercials. And by “micro-quoted,” I mean quotes that are usually less than eight words and are often devoid of context. The PACs are really notorious about this. (Can you say “campaign finance reform?”) By the time the actual election rolls around, I am fed up with the nonsense and at least one of the candidates has thoroughly annoyed me. Anyone else get to this point?
I don’t know about the rest of you folks, but all of this typically leads me to a decision that is less “Yes! This is the one for me!” and more “Oh gods! No! Not that one!” when it comes to how I cast my ballot.