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Campaign 2008 to Campaign 2012: It Only Got Worse
December 3, 2012
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I think the media was even more over the top this year than they were in 2008, and they haven't stopped yet. They have now transferred their hysterical score-keeping to fiscal and other issues facing the lame duck Congress or awaiting the incoming Congress. Here's what I journaled on 9/13/08. Substitute Romney/business/elitist for McCain/war/hothead and Ryan/etc. for Palin/etc., and it could have been written a few months ago instead of a few years ago. My suggestions to the "news" media and others still stand!

Everyone is telling me that this is the most important election of our lifetimes. The polls are unbearably (unbelievably) close. One side sees the end of the world as we know it looming if victory goes to the other side, and vice versa. Well, victory will go to one side or the other. Only one presidential ticket can win. Surely, all will not be lost if my candidate, or yours, loses. That is not the intended outcome of our democratic process. All that will happen is that all of us will still have a lot of hard work ahead

My e-mail is overflowing with tirades about Sarah Palin: various inside scoops, web sites, campaigns and organizing for "women against..." The McCain war record stuff is almost as copious. He's a hothead - the last person we want as Commander in Chief. I get it; I'm duly outraged (yawn); I'm pressing delete; I'm going to bed.

I can't imagine who is reading this stuff who hasn't already made up their mind. Am I supposed to forward it to someone who might be swayed? To die-hard Republican friends? I'm not sure I know anyone in either group! If I talk politics at all to my friends and associates, it is with the assumption that this year we are all Democrats because the country has really gone downhill under the Republicans. No one has tried to argue the latter point yet.

But some people are Republicans, have always voted with the party, and expect to always do so, even though they humor me or bite their tongues. Is an avalanche of fact-filled trash-talk going to make them budge? I don't think so, and that's not because it's not persuasive. It's because they don't have time to have their minds changed. There's a job to go to, maybe two; a child to raise, maybe several; a sick parent to care for; a car to take for repair; a form to fill out, a line to stand in...

There is no better evidence for the failures of the Republican regime than the degree to which Americans are stressed and stretched. When meeting daily needs is a struggle, we take any shortcut we can get. Party affiliation is one of these shortcuts. We have to trust our parties to represent our interests and values as they have in the past. It is true across the board. The Green Party has been unable to gain a foothold because middle-class Democrats, like middle-class Republicans, will go with the tried-and-true in hard times. We have our hands full and feel comfortable relying on those we have relied on before. Contemplating alternatives is a luxury we must forgo.

The most disgraceful thing about this presidential campaign, and I am as guilty of it as anyone, is the tendency to presume that supporters of the opposing candidate are bad or stupid. Liberals, when we're feeling generous, are more likely to write off our Conservative brethren as unfortunately stupid and ill-informed. Obviously they would see things our way if only they had better reasoning skills (or, as I argue above, more time to exercise them). Conservatives, when they're feeling generous, are more likely to despair for the shaky moral core of us Liberals. Our faith/patriotism is deficient, possibly infected by evil/enemy forces we are too weak to resist. It's a lamentable shortcoming and we must be saved from reasoning ourselves straight to Hell.

I'd like propose that none of us is bad or stupid, but we are all scared, and with good reason. We need to stop being scared of each other and start pulling together to fix the things that really do threaten us. The first of these is the power of the mass media to divide us. Aren't you sick to death of being pidgeonholed by race, faith, gender, income, education and age? May I suggest that the first thing all of us can do is stop responding to polls and questionnaires. Make the media stop telling us what we think and get busy reporting on what the candidates think, what they will do, how well they have fulfilled political promises to date, and where their positions have been consistent and inconsistent. Then we'll tell them what we think, on election day.

Let's ask the media to stop reporting on political ads. Every time a political ad is broadcast during a news story, that campaign is getting free air time. The more negative and incendiary the ad, the more likely it will get into the news cycle. The media loves controversy and dirty politics, but we should tell them we don't, and don't want to see it or encourage it.

Let's ask the media to stop interviewing each other. I'm tired of the same old talking heads, and they are clearly tired of themselves. I expected to see the panelists passing around popcorn and swigging beers during the convention coverage. They were slap-happy with fatigue from saying (and listening to) the same things over and over again, and seemed to almost forget the camera and any dignity formerly associated with conveying important events to the America public. Everyone on TV is trying to be a star in their own right, to win an award, to be the story or break a story. They can hardly get any actual reporting in, between their shameless self-promotion and posturing; they kill time with teasers and pop culture fluff as if news were in short supply and all the world was a giant bore.

The world is not a bore. The election is not a miniseries. The "lipstick on a pig" metaphor needs to be retired immediately. Change is inevitable. The shortcut doesn't always come out where you think it will.

I support Barack Obama and Joe Biden and the Democrats because they understand and embrace the concept of government by and for the people. I oppose McCain, Palin and the Republicans because people who profess to despise government should not be allowed to run it. Don't let the media tell you that this is a tie, a toss-up. The two parties may be equidistant from the starting line, but they're going in opposite directions. The Republicans have put up a war hero and a mama bear, running toward the bygone days as hard and fast as they can. We have seen a sentimental surge of affection for them since their convention. But when we confront our future on Election Day, I think there will be consensus that Obama/Biden are the best bet to lead us there.

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Copyright © 2012 Zelda Gatuskin

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