Friday, October 5, 2012

Burned Out

In my youth I did a brief stint as a pizza delivery boy, first for Pizza Hut and then for Domino's.  It was a fun job, and there was plenty of free pizza.  And in my youth, I could pack away as much pizza as I wanted without gaining weight (ah, youth).  But eventually I grew sick of pizza, free though it was.  My point is, there is such a thing as "too much of a good thing" if you stick around long enough.

Since then, my tastes have changed.  I still love pizza (in moderation) but I find myself these days becoming a news junkie and in particular, a politics junkie.  But even for the most avid news and political junkie there reaches a point where enough is enough.  The election season has the media saturating us at every turn.  Commercials, radio spots, you name it.  Thankfully California is not much of a swing state, so the powers that be wisely don't waste their money or our time telling us which way to vote.  It's assumed we've already decided.  I know I have. 

Last week I took a trip to the east coast and it seemed every commercial was political.  I suppose that the state I was in (New York) is more up for grabs than California, so I was bombarded with ad after ad.  It was exhausting.  And I have to believe that despite what the polls show, there aren't that many undecided voters out there.  I especially can't believe there are enough out there to determine the outcome of the election. 

I mean, we've all pretty much made up our minds at this point, right?  We've certainly seen enough, heard enough, and had enough information made available to us at this point that we can't honestly say we're still undecided.  What could a candidate possibly say or do in the next few weeks that would tip the balance?  If they start singing a different tune at this point - even a little bit - they'll be crucified in the press as a "flip-flopper", a panderer, someone who will say anything to get elected.  This is the point, in the last few weeks before the election, where they need to be running on their track record.  It's a little late in the game to re-invent one's self, isn't it?

In this country, a little less that half are eligible to vote.  Of those, less than half actually will vote.  And of those, 90%+ have decided what they're going to do.  And yet, this is the time - the "big push" - when more money is going to spent on political ads than at any other time in the process.  Millions (possibly billions) of dollars are going to be paid to ad agencies, pollsters and assorted kingmakers to tip the scales in one direction or another.  And I for one have had enough.

Enough already with the ads, the half-truths, the cherry-picking, the quotes out of context.  Enough misrepresenting the other guy.  Enough doomsday prophecies.  Enough scare tactics.  Enough phony character assassinations.  We have news sources aplenty out there to compare and contrast perspectives.  Granted, most of us get our news from one or two sources.  We either sidle up to Fox News and get the right wing spin or MSNBC for the left.  Some of us seek out neutral middle ground from the networks or CNN, but it's a fool's errand.  Virtually all of our media is bought and paid for by some nefarious corporate bogeymen who sit in cigar smoke-filled board rooms and decide what to tell the unwashed masses.  We are as educated as they want us to be.  If we look to foreign news sources like BBC or Al-Jazeera, we will see a different spin, but even then we're hearing someone's perspective on the truth, rather than the truth itself.  In the end, the most responsible thing we can do is to hopscotch to as many different sources as we can and try to distill the pure truth of it, and vote based on what we believe.

In the end, they're all politicians, folks.  They lie, cheat and steal.  Power corrupts, and these are folks looking for power.  Do the math.  The best you can hope for is a candidate who occasionally lets themselves get bogged down in a moral conundrum whenever the chance comes to enrich the rich at the expense of the rest of us.  Who you vote for in November will matter, but nowhere near as much as the ads would have you believe.  I say, vote.  Not because the ads tell you to, but because it's your right.  Vote because it's your civic duty.  Vote, because if you don't then you've got no right to whine about what are leaders are doing with the country after the election.  Vote because it's your country, damn it, and you've got a stake in this too.  If you don't like who's running (who does?!), then hold your nose and vote for the lesser of two evils.  Don't get your hopes up, but don't give up either.

There, I'm done.