Whereas 2008 brought tremendous excitement, starting with the Democratic primaries and through the general election in which we saw some welcomed diversity in both parties, the 2012 election will be remembered as bitter and hostile. It is not to say that 2008 was not exhausting, it was, and the nomination of Sarah Palin added some heated conversations. The distractions and passion of that election nearly cost me a year of law school--as I was glued to the political television networks and had many time-consuming debates with family and friends.
But, this year it seems different. While there is still passion, the arguments have become cliché and exaggerated. Every campaign comment is analyzed, spun and reanalyzed. Very few minds will change and I often throw up my arms in despair when people insist on voting against their own interest.
I have been less engaged and often avoid social media and political conversations. Others have shared the same sentiment.
Leading the discontent is the seemingly never-ending string of political advertisements. With a total cost of the election approaching maybe 6 billion dollars, up to 2.5 billion will be spent on the presidential election. Often the commercials run back to back--Obama, Romney, Mandel and Brown--and they target the small percentage of undecided voters. For the rest of us, the commercials have become background noise and largely ignored. The particularly vicious and deceitful commercials, often funded by political action committees, will round out the last week leading up to the election. For example, and of particular annoyance, are the disingenuous advertisements of the National Rifle Association (NRA).
I have to admit that I was wrong in that I thought the political advertisements, specifically the money spent by corporations for Republicans, would have more of an impact. It seems that even the undecided voters might be tuning them out-there are just too many of them and I think people are unsure of what to believe.
In addition, I think people are starting to believe that the process is just too long. With the maneuvering for the Republican nomination beginning last year, the primaries in the spring, the conventions in late summer and the debates in the fall--people only have so much time to invest. The political junkies love it, and I share some strong opinions, but the road is long--with campaign peaks and valleys, and controversy, and polls--and more polls. And it is a disturbance to the job duties of the President and members of Congress--they have to spend too much time campaigning.
It also seems that people have lost faith in the system--the promises and broken promises; the political spin and gamesmanship. Many are beginning to realize that politics and politicians are subservient to corporations and their lobbyists--and the polls and their financial supporters. Voters have little to say after the ballots have been cast. The hypocrisy and lack of principle is often blinding and discouraging.
Finally the issues--we have heard enough about jobs, taxes, healthcare and debt. The economy is an incredibly complex and intricate system. To think that one candidate, despite the claims of both candidates, can simply flip a switch and make everything okay is ridiculous. Supporters make arguments they do not even understand. How many can name five economic factors-let alone explain what they mean? Taxes, healthcare and the debt are real issues, and they separate many of the candidates, but we have heard it all already. Either you are for asking the wealthy to pay their fair share, or you are not. Either everyone should have access to healthcare or they should not. Either you believe the debt reduction numbers work, or you do not.
Either way, I am tired; I just want this to be over. In the presidential and senatorial races, I strongly believe that the Democratic candidates, from a character standpoint, are much stronger than their Republican challengers. But people vote like they do for a variety of reasons.
Whoever wins, I am ready to cast my ballot and move on. There will be more battles to fight, more causes to advocate-I am not giving up on those things I believe in-but I am ready for this election to conclude.