I haven’t talked at all about the upcoming elections next week, not because I haven’t been following what is going on, but because they exhaust me.
Every time I turn around there is an attack ad on a candidate, or the media taking a remark out of context, or an article about how much money has been spent on campaigning this year, or another article about Obama campaigning for the Democrats, or another article about some offensive thing a candidate said about some group of people, or starting this week, articles about fraudulent votes, disenfranchised voters, and bribing.
Tuesday (or sometime later when full results are in) is going to be a debacle. If the Republicans win, the Democrats will cry cheating. If the Democrats win, the Republicans will cry cheating. Maybe there is cheating – or maybe the voting machine simply malfunctioned, with no conspiracy involved. One would think that after over 200 years this country would be able to hold an election that did not involve any fraud, or that the parties wouldn’t leap to that conclusion so readily. No one trusts each other anymore, and the polarization between the two parties is frightening. There’s not one news website that gives a fair and balanced view of the country or the elections. Huffington Post and CNN lean toward the Democrats, Drudge and Fox lean toward the Republicans. Viewing the top headlines on the different sites makes you wonder if they are even reporting on the same country. Sarah Palin (who isn’t even running for office) is all over the more liberal news sites, while she’s essentially ignored on the more conservative news sites. Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to read one news website that provided equally negative information about both parties? Or how about a news website that told us more positive things that are going on in the government? Surely there’s something positive going on.
More troubling, and for some reason I never thought much about this, is that many of our incumbent Congressmen and our President have spent the past month campaigning rather than governing, even ending Congress’s second session early in order to do so. There is plenty that Congress needs to get done before the end of the year, most pressing to come to a decision on the Bush tax cuts and implement a budget for FY2011. While I get that they need time to campaign and spend time in their districts, when the general tenor of the campaign is that the country is in trouble, it’s hard for me to justify why they aren’t all doing their jobs to get us out of trouble, and even more when I hear the millions they are spending to get re-elected. Oh, but you want to take away our tax cuts? Every day I hear about Obama “stumping” for another Democratic candidate in another part of the country. Saturday he will be here in Chicago. I might even go, since it would be kind of cool to hear the President speak live, teleprompter and all. Most worrisome is whether Congress will be able to accomplish anything after the election. Will we even know who has been elected by end of evening Tuesday? I keep reading that the payroll companies need to know very soon what is going to happen with the Bush tax cuts so they can get their software updated by January 1, 2011. Will they have an answer in time? Will we have a 2011 budget by December 3, 2010?
I’m so sick of it all. It’s absurd that it costs millions of dollars to run for office in this country to have any shot at winning. It’s absurd that Congress is allowed to cut their session short to go out and campaign when they haven’t done the basics of what they were supposed to do. It’s absurd that they think we should reelect them when they haven’t done these basic things, and are afraid to do so because it might hurt their reelection hopes. (State elected officials up for reelection do it too. For example, our property tax bills here in Cook County are months late because they are waiting until after the election to send them out. Ridiculous.) It’s absurd that our President is out campaigning and discussing how bad things are rather than working to fix the bad. It’s absurd that our media is more interested in trashing a candidate or party than giving them the benefit of the doubt for misspeaking or investigating the entire story. It’s absurd that candidates can’t seem to find a way to win other than to attack their opponent. It’s absurd that people vote for candidates who are behind in their taxes or have been caught lying. It’s absurd that a candidate – in any race – can make it all the way through campaign season without specifically stating how they intend to accomplish their stated platform. Words are easy. Reduce spending! Great, where? Reduce the defecit! Great, how? More jobs! Great, how?
Most of all, it’s absurd that any of the candidates think we the people should be “fired up” for this election or care whether they get reelected. Is anything really going to change in Washington? Obama campaigned on “hope and change” and nothing changed. In fact, things got worse. Congress is more divided than ever. So, why is it that our elected officials can’t seem to find a way to meet in the middle to get things done? If they can’t do that, I don’t see why I should care whether they get reelected.
I will, of course, vote. However, I’m not excited about my options. (Mark Kirk or Alexi Giannoulias? Pat Quinn or Bill Brady?) I’m tired of having to mull over the choices and vote for the lesser of two evils or go third party. So I will go forth to the voting booth on Tuesday and do my civic duty, yet I will not be happy about it.