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It's been about a month since the election and the dust has finally settled. I believe we are all glad the negative television commercials are gone, as well as the obnoxious lawn signs, but there are a lot of people who miss the action and are beginning to exhibit withdrawal symptoms. Whereas young people were mostly apathetic during this electoral cycle, older people and party loyalists were transfixed on any news pertaining to the campaigns, including presidential, congressional, and local. This resulted in a windfall for the media. Over $1 billion was spent on television advertising alone for the presidential race, not to mention radio, newspaper, billboards, telephone calls, and Internet advertising. In all, we set another record in terms of campaign spending, but was it really worth it?
According to OpenSecrets.org, a research group tracking money in U.S. politics, the University of California was President Obama's top campaign contributor at $927,568. I don't quite understand how a university system like California's, which is supposed to be floundering financially and raising student tuition to new heights, can afford such generosity. Then again, maybe I just answered my own question. The fifth largest contributor to the president's re-election campaign was the U.S. Government at $528,603. I wonder if the American taxpayers knew about this and agreed to it. I know I was never consulted.
I am still concerned about the apathy of young people and their apparent indifference for our electoral process. I have never seen a generation so uninformed, regardless of the information technology currently available, nor do they seem concerned about the future of the country. This frightens me.
We also learned the country is as polarized as ever, maybe more so. This has been building since the 2000 election with the hanging chads, but has gotten progressively worse. For the first time though, anger has been expressed through social media, such as the physical threats made to assassinate Gov. Romney or calls for uprisings. Such open expressions of hostility are not new, but their propagation through technology is. I pity the Secret Service which has to investigate such threats and taunts.
The media encourages such behavior, as exemplified by MSNBC's Lawrence O'Donnell who challenged Tagg Romney to a fight on camera (see VIDEO). O'Donnell was neither reprimanded or fired by the network. This can only be construed as MSNBC approving of his antics, and by inference, promotes and endorses open hostilities.
Then there is the matter of lying, cheating, and deceit in the campaign itself, either by official representatives of the campaigns or the public, which is why Voter Identification became such a major issue this past year. The closer we got to the election, the more dirty political tricks we saw, such as the letters sent to Republicans in the closing days of the campaign that informed them it wasn't necessary for them to vote.
The biggest lesson I learned from this electoral cycle though was that the country hates our current form of elections. It is sinfully wasteful in terms of finances, consumes too much time thereby promoting polarity, and distracts politicians from tending to the duties taxpayers pay them to do. We probably spent more on the election than what President Obama proposed to tax the rich. Our form of elections are neither efficient or effective. For a country who prides itself on the efficiency of our technology, we certainly do a lousy job of conducting an election. It's barbaric, but we only have ourselves to blame. As Pogo said, "We have met the enemy, and he is us."
One last note, in a recent poll of registered voters, a paltry 22% believed in the polls during the campaign, a whopping 75% didn't find the media credible in their political reporting, and the rest were unsure what day it was.
Keep the Faith!
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Copyright © 2012 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.