Watch out folks, we have an election year on our hands. Dirty politics seems to be hiding pretty well these days, or maybe it only seems that way if you are living outside the demilitarized zone that we like to refer to as the swing states.
In these swinging states, dirty politics is streaming at a thousand ads a week across television and print. No blow is too low, and no ad is too bad. The average citizens in such states as Iowa, Nevada, and Oregon have been bombarded with political, often slanderous, ads. Most of these ads showcase exactly what this election is about. It’s all about the other guy.
Almost every visible political advertisement in this election has been an attack. Wading through most of these “ads” requires some pretty big boots. Coming out of it, people are generally left with an impression of who NOT to vote for. From one side, people are being told of John Kerry’s lack of patriotism, childishly coined and repeated “flip-floppiness”, and all around horse-facedness. On the other side, people are being told of Bush’s repeated lies, hatred of poor people, and generally uneconomical policies.
Even worse than the superficial differences between the candidates, the all too real similarities cause a justifiable conundrum. On a personal level, Kerry is a rich white graduate of Yale University, born into privilege and set to die there. Bush is, by contrast of course, a rich white graduate of Yale University, born into privilege and set to die there, who became President.
To show their political differences, both Kerry and Bush support the War in Iraq, both are against Gay Marriage, both are pro spending and neither has a clear agenda for the war against Islamic terrorism.
The worst offenders in this election have by far been the American news media. Story, after story, after story of pointless drivel about records from 30 to 40 years ago, has influenced the tone of this election more than any paid advertisement ever could. At any point that a candidate has chosen to speak on real issues, news reports focus on the accusations, on the rumors, on the falsehoods, and on the pointless facts.
Political news articles over the past six months have focused on the negative of each candidate. The news has painted a picture of heated debate over issues that have no real meaning. The Vietnam War is being discussed as a major issue in the election of 2004. Through the media, the candidates trade barbs over service, over loyalty, over patriotism, and over fitness to lead a nation.
Hearing the candidates discuss issues with no meaning is enough to make anyone cringe, so why is America complacent when Bush and Kerry argue over who is more of a patriot, when they argue over who is more compassionate, when they argue over who loves freedom more.
It is the candidates’ job to focus on the issues. It is the news media’s job to report on the issues. Neither of the two will do their jobs without a push from the people. The real issues are being ignored by the candidates, but the people know what they want. There are values and issues important to you. You know them. It is your duty, as a citizen of this great nation, to make your voice heard, through political discourse and discussion. It is your duty to decide the issues important to you, and make sure your elected officials address them.
It is your duty to vote on Election Day.