Does anyone have an antidote for the uneasy feeling brought on by the political lambasting we've endured this past election cycle?
This out-of-sorts feeling was brought on by unending oratories from both political stumps. Left unchecked, it could escalate into a raging case of national heartburn.
My goodness, the levels the candidates resorted to as they cast their opponents in a shadowy light. It got so bad that we didn't even expect them to tell the whole truth anymore. We settled for half-truths and innuendos, then sadly relied on various media “truth squads” to sort out whether a statement was “flatly false, partially true or basically true.” In the meantime, those who were unaware or uncaring went merrily on their way, making voting decisions with skewed information.
I should point out that I'm writing this column without the benefit of knowing who won the various races.
And, of course, I realize that we are all very fortunate to live in a democratic society with all of the many blessings this young nation provides. That's why I'm a little reluctant to extend the uneasiness of this election. But, while it's fresh on my mind, I wish every candidate, from the county commissioner to the highest office in the land, would sit themselves down in front of a mirror and privately, honestly ask themselves if their constituents were well served in their campaign.
A Dubious Record
In late October, it was estimated that Senator Obama had collected over $650 million in contributions (over 90% from individuals), while Senator McCain garnered about $360 million in contributions (about 54% from individual contributions). That's over $1 billion — a record — though dubious it may be.
For perspective, when Jimmy Carter won the 1976 presidential election, he spent $55 million. Six presidential terms later, George W. Bush's reelection campaign cost $419 million.
For my money, and some of it is mine (and each of yours), if Mr. Obama and Mr. McCain had taken even half of the combined billion dollars they raised and contributed it to one or more of the good causes they profess to support — lower taxes, more health care, educational opportunities, etc. — we all would have been better served.
In my search for information about campaign financing, I also found a quote posted on CNN.com a year and a half ago (Feb. 23, 2007) and attributed to Sheila Krumholz, director of the Center for Responsive Politics, a Washington-based group that tracks political funding. She positioned the situation beautifully: “I think it's a truism at this point that you can have lots of great qualities, you can have name recognition, you can have a good organization, you can have great ideas, but if you don't have the money, you don't have the campaign.”
On the matter of public campaign financing and spending limits, she continued: “This time, most of the top tier candidates, the rock star candidates, are saying: ‘We can't afford to take public funds, we can't afford to be impeded by the spending limits that come with taxpayer funding.’”
What a shame. “Our” candidates feel “impeded” by their constituents' attempts to help bring some balance to the democratic election process.
One Final Rub
I rarely stand on a soapbox when it comes to politics, but there's another issue that has raised my hackles more than once. I doubt I'm alone.
Doesn't it just grate on you whenever a politician or newscaster proclaims that some extra financial package or incentive, earmarked for a special interest, refers to it as “pork?” Here we have spent the past several decades selecting, breeding and feeding for a leaner, more acceptable pork product, and they dredge up an old stereotype that implies waste and excess.
We all know that the production of modern-day pork is neither wasteful nor excessive. Truth is, pork production is far more efficient that it's ever been — and it's getting better day by day. Many of our friends in politics could take a lesson from the nation's pork producers in that regard, don't you agree?
Okay, I'll step down from that soapbox now.
By the time this issue reaches your mailbox, we should know who our nation's leaders will be — barring any hanging chads or other irregularities in the process. Regardless of the victor — there are some mighty big jobs ahead.
This morning at breakfast, I was paging through the Oct. 19, 2008 edition of Parade magazine. There I found a Dan Piraro cartoon of two Joe-the-plumber types having a beer. One guy says: “I vote for the guy I'd like to have a beer with.” The other asks: “But will he suffer through the hangover with you?”
In the end, that's the real question, isn't it?