That’s right, you heard it here. I’m going negative – slinging some mud and I don’t care who it sticks to. Instead of updating my status on Facebook about how fatigued I am by politics I wasted an entire evening in developing this blog post.
1) There is a not a scrap of credence left anywhere for anything that subverts most Americans’ preconceived beliefs.
When Hurricane Sandy smashed us last week (what a night), and President Obama made uplifting public statements about managing the crisis, many conservative commentators complained that he shouldn’t have shown his face. In a Fox News interview, Charles Krauthammer said that since the White House really has no role to play in disaster relief, besides releasing funds, Obama was “playing the president, playing the commander-in-chief” in a disingenuous grab for voters’ sympathies. When he should have…what? Unplugged the phone and gone to bed? God forbid the President “play the president” when disaster strikes.
On the other hand, that rotund Republican ruffian, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, let himself be photographed touring devastated Brigantine Island with Obama. When he made the rounds on TV and social media, he applauded the President’s support and snapped that he doesn’t care about the hurricane’s impact on the election.
(He’s since been excommunicated by Republican pundits for this “treason.”)
“Today I’m touring NJ with President Obama,” Christie tweeted on October 31st. “Yes, he’s a Democrat, and I’m a Republican. We’re also adults, and this is how adults behave.”
“Especially adults who want a shot at the 2016 Presidential election…” a liberal friend of mine added when he shared this tweet on Facebook. He’s hardly alone in expressing the sentiment that Christie is playing nice not to do his job as an elected official when a record-breaking storm devastates thousands of his constituents, but to feed his own ambition.
So it officially does not matter what the hell anyone does. Elected officials doing their jobs with appropriate concern, resources and cooperation are pilloried for doing so simply because their political opponents can’t stand to see them sucking up one gram of positive media oxygen.
2) Ungodly gobs of greenbacks
If we took all the money that’s been poured into the Presidential election and applied it to our country, instead of the question of who gets the power in our country, we probably could have wrapped up this recession two or three years ago. We’d probably all be in flying cars on our way to our $250k+ full-time jobs, while our kids skipped off to the world’s best schools, where meningitis, the flu and the common cold have been completely eradicated.
I get pretty steamed watching any political candidate talk about how American families are hurting…in ads that cost millions of dollars to produce and air.
How many hurting families could be set for life with the budget of one primetime ad for the Presidential race?
And the inaugural balls will top it all off. If you wish the incoming administration would take the cost of the string of glittering shindigs they’ll plan to celebrate the inauguration, and apply those dollars to homes lost in hurricanes, people dying for lack of health insurance, crime-ridden towns whose police forces and social programs have been slashed, or programs to keep families in their homes rather than in foreclosure, or ANYTHING else worthwhile, please share this blog post.
3) Both mainstream Presidential candidates would have us believe that a single person can “fix” all our economic problems.
My Grampa’s bumper sticker reads “$1.83: Price of gas when Obama took office.” The idea is that Obama’s to blame for the price of gas, and that if we elect Romney, he’ll magically shave two bucks off of every gallon. But no head of state can control all of the global and domestic issues that affect gas prices.
Romney claims he’ll usher in a golden age of jobs for all. Really, Romney? How about you resurrect the newspaper industry while you’re at it, so I can have a salaried job and benefits as a print journalist?
Not so simple, is it? And that’s just one field.
Both candidates want me to think that economic solutions are in their hands, as if any single person can shepherd the whole United States, from hedge fund managers to freelance writers to the homeless, to fiscal success.
4) Election-year rhetoric would have me believe that the United States President holds the solution to violent, complex international disputes.
The debating candidates faced questions on Iran, Libya, Egypt, Pakistan, and Afghanistan as if their policies will determine the course of history in those countries.
Please excuse me while I bang my head against the wall.
It has become sacrilege in American politics – for Republicans and Democrats – to utter the simple truth that the United States of America is just one country in the world. Why do Americans think that our foreign policy holds responsibility for peace and democracy in the Middle East, or anywhere else, or that America is the “greatest country in the world” and therefore has a special role to play in the government of every other country?
Greatest country in the world by what measure? Happy people? Economic stability? Health? Beautiful scenery? Life expectancy? Academic scores? Pollution levels? Gender and racial equality? Volunteerism? Military size? Crime rates? Popularity abroad? Tax rates? Birth rates? Cuisine?
It’s a subjective business, to say the least.
How would we feel if other democracies held debates on how their heads of state should manage America? You know, our frequent mass shootings, gridlocked political system, ballooning deficit, white supremacist groups, troubled education system, overstuffed prisons, devastating hurricanes and nuclear capabilities?
Longtime readers of this blog already know that I’m no American exceptionalist. We may have the power to do a lot of good, but we’re not at the wheel of the whole entire world. I think a lot of our discourse on foreign affairs – including our demands that our President take responsibility or blame for foreign events – is nothing short of delusional.
So electing either Mitt Romney or Barack Obama is going to solve the Syrian civil war, calm Al Qaeda and keep everyone safe from Iranian nukes, huh?
Give me a break.
5) Oh and this e-mail from a political advocacy group
I got on this mailing list awhile ago, probably when I signed some petition.
Now they e-mail me every few hours, like this one from November 1st, begging me to donate money to them to get out the vote for [candidate redacted].
“Seriously – this is it. If [the candidate] pulls ahead in the polls later this week and you start to panic, it will simply be too late for us to change our plans in any meaningful way.”
“If you really truly can’t afford to give at this point—we understand,” it goes on. “But if you can chip in $5 today and you don’t, and then [candidate] barely wins…you won’t be able to live with yourself.”
You don’t say.
I consume bipartisan news sources and think carefully about what they say. I’ve often reflected on social, political and economic issues on this blog and elsewhere in my published work. And I will get up at the crack of dawn to make sure I have time to vote on Tuesday before I have to be at the office. (Yes, I may complain about what’s wrong with politics, but I won’t refuse to participate in my small way.)
I think I can safely say that I’m a well-engaged citizen.
So I hate the base, desperate fear-mongering of messages like this on the eve of an election. I won’t be able to live with myself if I don’t give your organization five dollars to funnel into a political campaign?
We’ll see about that.