Election Eve: The End of a Long Road
One more day to go and the 2012 election will be in the record books. Assuming there are no “hanging chads” we should have the presidential question answered by Wednesday. Either President Obama will be re-elected or we will begin the Romney/Ryan presidency. Either way we can all breathe a sigh of relief that we can once more turn on our radios and savor in the absence of endless political ads.
Political Campaigns and Dirty Tricks
The first political campaign I can remember being conscious of was the first Dwight Eisenhower/Adlai Stevenson election in 1952. I was nine. We had just gotten our first TV that summer and in those days the three networks covered the Republican and Democratic conventions gavel to gavel in glorious black and white. Eisenhower won two terms and my interest in politics was off and running.
It was very frustrating to have missed being able to vote in the John F. Kennedy/Richard M. Nixon election due to my 18th birthday being two days after the election. As you can imagine I was very frustrated as this was the first election with televised debates and a chance to see the candidates up close and personal. And it turned out to be one of the closest elections in history. Kennedy won with a vote of 34,220,984 over Richard Nixon with 34,108,157 — a difference of 112,827. Many critics of Kennedy felt that some suspicious voting practices in Chicago might have turned the tide for Kennedy. Nixon certainly could have requested a recount but didn’t.
Modern Day Politics
One interesting turn of events in the 2012 election is the emergence of “fact checking.” Newspapers, bloggers and other news sources began looking up facts to see if they matched the candidate’s rhetoric. In many cases the facts “sort of” matched up with what the candidate said. Unemployment was down if you only look at selected months. Spending was less during certain time frames. Political campaign managers became experts at “cherry picking” talking points, that if put under the political microscope, would have to be construed as mostly true.
Even though today’s voter claims to tune out political ads, the repetition of the ads is key. Tell something often enough and get enough people to repeat it and it becomes fact over the course of a campaign. We seem to have an evenly split electorate that would make sense due to the sensory overload of information available to us. Like minded people find each other and carry the water for their party regardless of the purity of the water. The result —uninformed followers rather than informed voters make their way to the polls.
Some Final Thoughts
Regardless of your political thoughts or beliefs, you will have a president by Wednesday morning. Then the arguments can begin. Who is their right mind would have voted for that guy? Why do we send the same people back year after year? Why are we sending new people when the old ones were doing so well? We definitely need a third, fourth or fifth party. Why do we need the Electoral College? Every election the same questions raise their ugly heads, die off after a few days and everyone starts thinking about the holidays. So after spending millions of dollars, thousands of speeches, debates, bickering, the final question becomes — where are we spending Thanksgiving?