Have no fear, I’m not going to pontificate on which presidential candidate I think should win, nor which party is better than the other. Let me clearly state that I am an Independent, not affiliated with either the Republican or the Democratic Party. Yes, I tend to lean towards one vs. the other, but I’m not going to get into that here. I will also admit that for the past several years of presidential elections, I have not been whole-heartedly thrilled with ANY candidate. As my mother once said, it often feels like voting for the least of the evils.
I will also admit that I am not highly knowledgeable in the ways of government, and have had no formal education in politics. I am just your average Real Woman who must withstand the endless monotony of the current Presidential race and the media coverage thereof. So instead of getting into some sort of heated debate on the issues, I’d like to focus on just two of the areas in the political arena that bother me the most.
First: It seems quite apparent to me that it would be impossible for a poor, or even lower middle-class, man or woman to ever be elected to become President. If you are not already wealthy, or don’t have incredible fund-raising capabilities, no need to apply. Running a campaign to win a presidential primary can currently range in cost from $50 – $100 million. But wait — there’s more. When the nominees begin campaigning for the general election, another $75 million is spent. Many of us have at one time in our lives done fund raising for a charity or non-profit organization, and understand how difficult it can be to raise even $5,000, let alone these remarkable numbers. Is it any wonder that many of us feel that candidates are out of touch with reality as to what it is truly like to be poor or struggling to pay the bills?
Imagine if you were hoping to be elected to a Board of Directors, or to a civic organization… and you were told “well, sure, we’ll consider you — if you’ve got $40 million dollars to invest.” How ludicrous! Think of the incredibly wise, talented people you know in your life who could potentially be a great leader. But with that sort of monetary barrier, they will most likely never even come close to a high office. I hope I will some day be proven wrong. I hope some day we will elect someone because he or she is brilliant, honest, has great leadership abilities — and has barely enough money to buy a good suit.
Second: The B.S. Factor. If I were to ask you to name 5 clear examples of where each candidate stands on issues, and what they plan to do as solutions when they are elected, would you be able to? Conversely, if I ask who’s birth certificate was in question, and who is rumored to have overseas accounts, you’d know immediately. We know more about the candidates families, personal quirks and even religious faith than we do about whether or not they could do the job. Mudslinging and personal attacks have unfortunately been political tactics for hundreds of years. But now it seems to be even worse, and happens as soon as campaigns kick into gear. No longer is mudslinging a last-ditch attempt to attack an opponent’s character. It is an immediate and up front strategy.
Imagine again, if you will…. you are interviewing for a new job. And the interviewer explains to you “We really have no idea whether or not you are capable of doing this job. But the other candidate for this position told us you are a cat-hater, so we just can’t trust you.” Yes, it sounds like I’m over-simplifying the situation. But am I really? Could anyone get away with any of this in the real world?
I read an article today by a pre-journalism sophomore from Arizona by the name of Dan Derochers, and I believe he said it eloquently: “While mudslinging may be effective in getting a candidate elected, it divides the two political parties. Right now we don’t need a candidate who is good at being mean, and we don’t need a candidate who won a dirty election. We need a candidate with the ability to lead. We need a candidate who can unite the two parties so that they can finally agree on something and stop trying to repeal health care reform for the 31st time.”
And let’s look at it one more way. We spend a lot of time and energy teaching our children to respect each other, to play nice, to be kind to others. We all strongly support the anti-bullying movements that are sweeping through our schools. So why should it be ok for our children to turn on the news and see the potential Leader of the Free World doing everything we tell them not to do? What kind of example is that?
In November, I will perform my American duty and I will cast my vote. But I can’t say with all confidence that I will be comfortable with my decision unless this “competition” changes for the better — and soon.