I blame my colleagues in the media for this as much as I put the blame on the politicians and the American public.
First of all, there is probably an assumption from readers that I and all of the staff at the Express are Democrats. While I am unable to speak for the rest of my colleagues, I am an independent. I have voted over the years for both Democrats and Republicans and, in some elections I have voted in the Democratic primary and, other times, the Republican primary.
I have managed or played a major role in 13 political campaigns from the local to the national level (judges, prosecutors, state legislators and a U.S. congressional campaign). Of those campaigns, eight of them were for Republican candidates.
When I enter the voting both on November 4 in Acme Township I will be voting for Republicans, Democrats and possibly some third party candidates. I remain undecided in my choice for several offices, including the office of president.
After watching the final debate and listening to the political pundits break it all down, I find that I learned absolutely nothing new. I am further frustrated and see our country simply sinking deeper into a political quagmire.
For me personally, I am bothered with the vilification of those running for political office. When you follow what is being said, you begin to wonder if each political candidate works directly for Lucifer.
As citizens, we have to share in some of this blame. Are we really that gullible? But more importantly, the media does as well. The media has become, for the most part, a monetary monster, focused on bottom lines and the headlines that return profits, not Pulitzers.
It is difficult to pinpoint exactly when the transition of civility in the process turned to the politics of hate. I grew up in a family with one set of staunch Republican grandparents and the other set, card-carrying Democrats. The political discussions were always civil and respectful.
My grandmother was the secretary for the Michigan Conventional Constitution and eventually became a legislative aide for a Democrat. I observed that in her conversations, while disagreements and differences of opinion existed, there was always respect for those with opposing viewpoints. I never heard her refer to anyone from the Republican Party as evil or as bad.
Last week I was in a coffee shop in Northern Michigan and a group of men who gather daily were talking politics. My jaw dropped when I heard one of them speak about how evil Barack Obama is and that we need the KKK to make a comeback. Of the dozen at that table not one person challenged his comment as being wrong. Instead there were nods of support.
Another quickly responded, We need our grandsons to tell all their friends to tell their parents, if Obama gets in he will take away all of our guns. Not sure I heard Obama make that claim.
At political rallies led by vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin, some in the crowd have shouted kill him or n----r.
Now the other side is equally as bad. A week ago a group showed up to a Palin rally wearing shirts that said Palin Is A C--t. The list is endless of each candidate being painted essentially as the devil, or un-Amrican.
TAKING A STAND
During the final debate, McCain expressed his disgust over comments made by Congressman John Lewis that McCain/Palin were creating a climate of racial tension similar to the one George Wallace created nearly 40 years ago. Obama countered about McCain supporters using the N-word or chanting kill him. McCain then came back and said his campaign cannot be responsible for the comments of a few people and that he has always immediately repudiated any of these negative statements.
This is where McCain is wrong and where my colleagues in the media have been in the wrong. If I go into a movie theater with a friend and know ahead of time that my friend is going to yell fire, then I stand up and say that what he did was wrong, and I cant be held responsible for him. But, does that make it okay?
I dont think so. This is exactly what these candidates are doing. They know ahead of time that their supporters are going to stand up speak words that are going to create panic.
While it is easy to point the finger at the politicians, the media in this country are fanning the flames of hate and deception. Somewhere along the line we have blended the nighttime talk show host/comedian/entertainer into the media mix. I counted on Johnny Carson to make me laugh when he poked fun at the politicians, but I didnt count on Mr. Carson to shape my political opinions.
Somewhere along the way, the late night mouths evolved into journalists. Guys like Rush Limbaugh and Steven Colbert have blended lines of entertainment and journalism. This profitable approach that these talking heads have taken has found its way into mainstream media.
A few months ago in a rush to keep up with competitive news companies, the major networks broadcasted a video clip that they thought came from a legitimate news service. The story told of how several nations were quickly trying to claim a stake to some underwater parcel near Greenland. All the major networks played the clip and reported on the story, only to find out the next day that it was actually a clip from the Titanic movie and they had been duped by some kids.
If the media is that easily fooled by kids, what gives us any confidence in their ability to decifer legitimate news from these double-talking politicians?
At the end of the day. this is all about winning. It is us against them and it those guys against us. This fact was driven home to me during the 2006 election when the Republican leadership of the U.S. House of Representatives took to the podium. During a post-election night press conference, the Republican leadership spoke about how they planned to recapture a Republican majority in 2008.
Not once did they mention reaching over party lines to work to end the war, to improve the economy, to create jobs, to improve schools, create alternative energy sources, balance the budget, fix roads, improve health insurance, or fix social security. It was all about winning the majority back in 2008. The Democrats fared no better, instead placing their focus on wining the White House in 2008.
So here is a news flash to my fellow Americans. It really doesnt matter who gets elected on November 4, as we can expect more of the same. The next four years will be about name-calling and political gridlock and both political parties trying to position themselves for the 2010 mid-term elections and either gaining or keeping control of the White House in 2012.
Expect more of the same from the media as well. After all, do we really want to read about some plan to fix the economy? I dont think so: I want to know what Obama had to eat for lunch while he was meeting with those terrorists; and whether or not he was on cocaine during those meetings. Be sure to find out who Sarah Palin had sex with in high school, too.
Oh well, it is back to figuring out who to vote for hmm, which is the lesser of two evils?