I’ve joked with my wife about feeling underwhelmed with America’s choice of Presidential candidates in 2012. I’ve teased about using my father’s residency in the Great White North to emigrate to Canada. I’ve been voting since 1994, and always been quick to say voting is an absolute responsibility. This time out, I’m really underwhelmed with our choice and don’t see either candidate with a concrete plan to improve the national economy.
In part, I blame the two-party system. Did you know the U.S. only had one independent candidate? Any guess who? It was George Washington. In his farewell address, President Washington warned of the evils of political parties. He said a party in power would dominate the minority, and would take revenge over another. He warned parties would distract the nation and the government away from the business of governing.
Two hundred twenty-five years after the Constitution was adopted, what do we have? Distraction from the business of government. The two-party system is the only way a man or woman can run for president. We have a primary system designed to appeal to voters at the far-ends of the political spectrum. Then the pandering begins. By summer 2012, I really scratched my head because neither candidate spoke to anything I cared about.
My next grievance is with the media, and no, I do not mean The Marshall County Tribune-Courier. I’m talking about the national Fourth Estate. The media has transformed its role from informing voters what a candidate will do for the nation, to the latest “Gotcha!” moment. Instead of pressing candidates to provide job plan details, or how to fix a still-broken health care system, we have binders full of women, dogs on the roof, to teleprompter usage and how much golf has been played.
I’ve already railed on the futility of debates. Frankly, I’ve seen better among high school student council candidates.
One more week, and the relentless attack ads come to a blessed halt, at least until the next election. Maybe my memory is getting a little foggy as I approach middle age, but I remember a day when candidates at all levels were civil. They behaved like ladies and gentlemen. And I remember as a child had the candidate come out, smile, and say, “I’m Candidate X. Here are some things I believe in. Here are some things I’m against. If you believe like I do, then please vote for me.”
Holly and I are big fans of some period dramas on television. “Boardwalk Empire” and “Copper” are two that have prominently featured Presidential elections. I know there was plenty of acrimony in those elections in earlier times. There was bribery and scandal.
But the one thing they were lucky enough to miss, by a century or so, is modern mass multimedia. No PACS, and no Citizens United to give corporations a louder voice and deeper pockets than candidates themselves.
A steady bombardment of TV, radio and internet with the oft repeated mantra, “I’m so-and-so, and I approved this message.”
Me? I’m over it.