By the time you read this we’ll be just a year away from the Presidential Election. President Barrack Obama versus the last man standing in the GOP Battle Royale. Every election year, I feel like I’ve had the crap beat out of me by the time I got to my designated polling place to vote, and presidential elections are the worst. The negative campaign ads, the “no holds barred” style debates and the dinner hour interruptions from pollsters and candidate call centers make my head hurt. Someone said, “Politics is a dirty business,” and if that’s the case then elections are like rolling around in a mud puddle after a litter of puppies has just “done their business.”
Politicians spend so much time campaigning that they can’t possibly be doing their actual job and where does that leave us, as constitutes? It leaves us unrepresented. The guy or gal we hired is not showing up for work because he or she is out of the office trying to get rehired. Here’s a real world example: Imagine if all of the cashiers at Safeway/Lucky Supermarkets/Whole Foods/ Lunardi’s/Drager’s/etc. left their registers to go door-to-door, asking for support to keep their job. Chances are, we would all be annoyed by their visit and then we’d all head to the grocery store to stock up on free stuff because not one would be there to check us out. Could it be that the rest of the world knows we’re our most vulnerable during an election year because no one is minding the store?
It doesn’t matter which political affiliation you have these days; Democrat, Republican, Libertarian, Vegetarian, Independent, New Union, Peace, Reform, American Populist, Citizens United, Daughters of the American Revolution or Sons of Anarchy, you’re inundated with television ads, phone calls, banners, signs, radio spots and town hall assemblies. It’s sensory overload when it comes to our right to vote.
In the spring of 1975, when I was in the seventh grade at Isaac Newton Graham Junior High School, I ran for Student Body President. This was the ultimate in prestigious titles for anyone transitioning to the eighth grade. I watched in awe as students stepped aside anytime Charlie Passentino, the reigning Student Body President, roamed the corridors. Like many aspiring politicians, I was seduced by the power the office held. Once I submitted my application, with the required thirty signatures (I’m not afraid to admit that I cozied up to the band geeks and drama freaks), I hit the campaign trail. Plastering the hallways of our school with campaign posters, that would eventually be defaced with obscene drawings, I didn’t so much defend my position on issues as much as make a lot of false promises I had no intention of keeping. At the candidate debate, which took place before the entire seventh grade class in the school’s multi-purpose room, all of the candidates did their best just not to throw-up on stage during our first public speaking experience. Ultimately, I lost the election. I think I came in sixth and there were only five candidates running. The charismatic and dashing Russell Kevin (or was it Kevin Russell?) won in a landslide victory. To his credit, Russ was a born politician and did an admirable job during his term. He managed to create new jobs, balance the budget, reduce our international debt, stabilize the stock market and secure a jukebox for the cafeteria. Russ was eventually succeeded by Jack Vandervork. Sadly, Jack’s administration was rocked with scandal during the fall of 1976 when he arrived stoned at the annual Sadie Hawkins Day dance.
The University of Akron conducted a study entitled Trends in Federal Campaign Spending, which charts a ten year history of campaign spending. Not surprising, the peak was during the last presidential election in 2008. The findings recorded total campaign spending that year at just under $600 million dollars. As I recall, the average American couldn’t escape the onslaught of ads. Our home phone message recorder had five to seven political related calls every day. Granted, I did feel popular, but it became so over-the-top that I just wanted it to stop. I kept thinking that all that money could’ve been spent more wisely or philanthropically.
Elections are good for the economy, but bad for the environment. erhaps President Obama’s jobs plan will coincide with the election year pumping $600,000,000 into the economy. Smart. However, the post election disposal of 1000 tons of bulk mailers and one million lawn signs could actually melt the polar icecaps and dry out a rain forest. The Green Party won’t like that one.
My own personal political views fall somewhere between Liberal Republican and Conservative Democrat. My Republican vote is usually cancelled out by my wife’s Democrat vote, however knowing that every vote counts I try and vote early and often. Prior to every election, my wife and I sit down and go over our sample ballots cover to cover. We typically see eye-to-eye on Bonds, Measures and Referendums, but truthfully I couldn’t tell you the difference between a bond, measure or referendum. Aren’t referendums the guys wearing stripped shirts doing the officiating at basketball and football games? The Mrs. elects to mail her ballot in where I prefer to get the full election experience, and the I Voted sticker, at my local polling place.
The right to vote is a privilege we should not take lightly. People all over the world have fought long and hard for that right and many countries today still do not have that form of democracy. Our country was built by people (fondly know as Pilgrims) who left England to establish a country where citizens had a right to choose their officials and representatives. Initially it was just white male citizens, but we’ve come a long way since the mid-1700s. Every U.S. Citizen, 18 years old and older, should feel a need to exercise their right to participate in the electoral process. Each and every one of us has a voice. Our vote does count. Rock the Vote! God Bless America.