Monday, October 25, 2010

I Hate Election Season

It's been a little slow around here and I can blame life being busy and tumultuous and, ironically, election season.  A political blog should be hoppin' during election season but I find that elections make me disillusioned and sad for America.  While we don't practice the most honorable politics in non-election seasons, during elections the level of political discourse on all sides plummets and candidates compete in a race to the bottom.  Perhaps the worst aspect of democracy is the elections.

The candidates believe, correctly, that Americans care more about wedge issues and digestible soundbites than substantive discussions of the issues.  They know by now that Americans like to be reaffirmed in what they believe as opposed to being challenged by new and novel ideas.  They know that Americans are tribalistic and like to think in terms of "us v. them" as opposed to finding ways to come together for the common good.  They are more interested in not making a gaffe than in saying or doing something truly memorable and inspiring and taking chances, because any little gaffe in this era of 24-hour cable news and the internet will be magnified beyond all reasonable limits of logic and decency.

From a partisan point of view this election season is also frustrating because of articles like this from Slate:
A. Recent polls have found that the economy is uppermost in the minds of voters ahead of the midterm elections. They have also found that many more Americans attribute the dismal economy to the former Bush administration than to the Obama administration. Gallup tells us that 71 percent of all Americans blame Republican policies for the bad economy, while only 48 percent blame the Obama administration.

B. Americans dislike congressional Republicans more than congressional Democrats. A recent Washington Post-ABC poll shows that while disapproval of congressional Democrats stands at 61 percent, disapproval of congressional Republicans stands at 67 percent.

C. Republicans are heavily tipped to wrest control of one or both houses of Congress from the Democrats in the upcoming midterms.
What's the explanation?  The article suggests that maybe Americans are just trying to get to divided government, which they like.  Or that Democrats are in office, the economy stinks, so vote out the Democrats.  Both are reasonable explanations, but my theory is that Republicans are better at talking to the Americans in paragraph two above than Democrats are.  Democrats are trying, don't get me wrong, they just aren't good at it.  For them, it takes something akin to George W. Bush trashing our country to find the right message and win some elections, which is a rare occurrence indeed.

Perhaps the most depressing thing you could do during this election season is browse through  Here you have a non-partisan look at the truthfulness of political commercials (now funded largely by anonymous groups and donors; so much for accountability and open governance), statements, and arguments.  The results aren't pretty and serve to reconfirm our suspicions that most politicians are liars.  But Americans aren't really interested in facts, they're interested truthiness.  Take it away, Mr. Colbert:

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
The Word - Truthiness
Colbert Report Full Episodes2010 ElectionMarch to Keep Fear Alive

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