'Tis the season of pre-election telephone calls and all the negative advertising money can buy, while voters throw up their hands and say, "What's the difference? All the candidates are the same anyway!"
These voters have a point. It is hard to tell the difference between some candidates. A strident ad is a strident ad. Especially when you don't know who's funding said negative ads. I recommend tuning them all out and instead listening to public affairs shows on your local public broadcasting stations. You'll learn a lot about the candidates and the issues and be able to make up your own mind about how you'll vote. That's what democracy is all about.
Speaking of money, the Republican candidate for governor in my home state of California has spent in excess of $119 million of her own money for her campaign. Some tout that as a virtue--at least she's not beholden to lobbyists. Ah, the naivete of youth. Seems to me spending that much money on a gubernatorial campaign would automatically make her candidacy suspect. One hundred million dollars could go a long way toward solving a lot of California's problems. But then Meg Whitman would be heading up a nonprofit organization, largely toiling in anonymity as most executive directors of nonprofits do.
It's sport in our country to bash politicians and lobbyists for their fecklessness and corruption. But remember that spectators can cause their own trouble. Just think soccer houligans, or stampedes at rock concerts.
I've been making phone calls in support of Betsy Markey, the Fort Collins Democrat who is nearing the end of her first term as U.S. representative for Colorado's 4th district. The two young women who work in the Longmont Democrats' office observe that people were willing to volunteer during the 2008 election, but not so much now. Midterm elections just aren't as prominent, and therefore less important.
Get with it, people. Americans have the opportunity to vote every year in state, national and local election. Even on the years when presidents are elected, only about 60 percent of eligible voters turn out at the polls. It's less than 50 percent during midterm elections. Why isn't it 100 percent for every elections? We citizens are squandering the privilege of voting for candidates we believe will represent the interests of the majority of people.There are people in oppressive countries like Burma and El Salvador who would love to be able to vote.
Every election counts, folks. I don't really care what political persuasion you are. This is a participatory democracy. Don't let cynical people tell you your vote doesn't matter. And worse, stop listening to those ads that distort the character of candidates, Democrat or Republican. The more all of us are invested in elections, the more hope there is that excellent candidates will present themselves. And then we can get down to the business of solving the very real problems we face in our country.