Wednesday, November 05, 2014

Some Personal Reflections on the Election

From an old political science major:

Finally! It's over. Time for some personal reflections on the just (sort of) completed elections.

Please note, I am talking, in general, about politicians on both sides. It depends sometimes on the particular politician, of course. Some are generally quality individuals with integrity and empathy. But most fail from time to time and the whole election process just plain sucks! So here are some of my thoughts.

1) It is hard to remain civil about the incivility of the election process, ads, smears, slams, etc. But I am trying. By turning off the political ads.

2) Why, oh why do we have to portray the opposition candidates as "un-American" or worse? What about democracy don't we understand? It is a national dialogue on priorities, ideas, directions. It is the opportunity to state our opinions and work toward healthy compromise and movement. Instead we attack individuals and personalities. Not something new in this election cycle- it's been around since Adams vs. Jefferson- but it can be very disturbing.

3) The press- on both sides. Actually, the broadcast media on both sides has taken the process and often placed it in jeopardy or even a parody of itself. Like attack ads, partisan media is not new- it has been a staple of American politics since the beginning. But now, in our age of 24/7 news cycles, it just keeps piling higher and deeper. I have stopped watching any of the news outlets for the elections. Maybe I won't go back.

4) Spin, spin, spin- until you fall down dizzy from all the spin. It's almost like those playground "carousels" we had when I was a kid. I was on one time and got so dizzy and nauseous that I never got on one again. Almost like the elections. Three weeks ago I also stopped listening to public radio's endless replaying of the state candidate debates, interviews, etc. Not because I didn't want to hear, but often the spin and rancor and name calling and on and on was just too much.

5) Do these politicians REALLY believe the crap they spew forth? Really? The incredible inconsistencies, faux pas, inane, hateful and just plain stupid remarks that are made seems to indicate a disconnect in many brains- a broken connection between logic and compassion and understanding and intelligence and the mouth.

6) Voter fraud and voter ID issues were sad to watch and were actually scary. For something that has been, for all practical purposes a non-issue for the past 50 years, it sure became an issue. Set up a basic system for FREE voter ID cards and it will make more sense. The right to vote has been a hard-fought battle for our entire history. In colonial America I would not have been allowed to vote- I don't own any land- and live in a rental town house. LESS THAN 100 years ago, women could not vote in the United States. A government "of the people, by the people and for the people" needs to have voting by as many people as possible. This has been a dangerous movement!!

7) The other really big issue is that of all the corporate-type money flowing so freely into both parties. It is almost obscene! If our national political health depends so fully on money with strings attached, maybe we aren't all that healthy. No, I don't have a good and affordable answer, but it is dangerous. It is called a plutocracy, a government controlled by the wealthy and they spend a lot of money buying our politicians and our votes.

8) What about the results? Well, all spin aside, it probably only matters in the short-term as this is often what happens in the mid-term elections. In spite of the hype by the press, this was no more or no less important than most other mid-term elections. It is how our democracy works- for better and worse. Shifts in power, movements across the middle-of-the-road point are common. While there seems to be a greater polarity and anger in this mid-term, maybe we can still hope that a certain amount of deal making is possible. We will see.

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