Will we be kinder after the election? Quieter? Less polarized?
I am a news junkie, but I am turning from the chatterboxes on TV. Polls, polls and more polls. The process of electing a president has degraded into clatter. We could be reading about the viability of the proposals proffered. We could be verifying the truth of the candidates' claims. But no. We are talking about trends and polls.
Who is still undecided? Who wants to answer polling questions? Who can bear one more arm twist for money or votes?
I am a dinosaur with a land line, and I can tell you that despite the fact that Illinois in not in play, I am getting robo and call-bank contacts. I do not answer.
The papers puff up and endorse presidential and congressional candidates. Am I to be guided by the opinion of a medium that has given Jenny McCarthy a "column" where she can instruct me, with no credentials, about how to raise my kids or keep my marriage hot? I'll take a pass.
The newspaper industry, mindful that its readership is dwindling, has adopted a big tent philosophy: for each liberal voice, there will be a conservative voice. There will be diversity. Everyone gets an opinion that grafts to an existing belief. Just covering the many views on the editorial page could cause whiplash.
I am not critical of this cafeteria plan; in fact, I admire this pragmatic approach. The paper gives us the myriad views, and we hew to the person we believe we approximates us. No one is so enraged by being unrepresented that they cancel their subscriptions. The reader is given many lifelines to choose, and is free to disregard or disagree with any voice that clashes. It encourages us to tiptoe into opposing views, and maybe even revise our own. Or perhaps just to scoff. I can live with the literary public square, full of squabbling and debate.
What I don't really need is an endorsement from my daily.
That is so Old School in the new world of presidential politics. Once upon a time, only the wealthy had access to reading materials. Once not so long ago, the news was a nugget at 6, and there were not a dozen 24/7/365 news outlets. Even twenty years ago, political choices were not dissected on thousands of websites.
Today's voter could probably use help with the judicial races and the obscure career municipal workers trying to slither into jobs and pensions. But as for the top of the ticket...I'm doubting that there is one scintilla of attention paid...except by the 24/7/365 news outlets. They find it far cheaper to talk about polls and endorsements than news. Then they can have their audience respond to the polls and endorsements via tweets. Then they read and report the tweets. I have to turn it off.
Back to papers: My esteemed host, The Tribune is endorsing President Obama. I will say that with or without this guidance, I will vote for this man. I have issues- and I will not respond to any of yours here. Or defend mine.
When the Republicans made gridlock and non-cooperation their absolute priority, and this man trundled on- he earned a second attempt.
As a nation, we cannot allow our future to be stalled by partisan antics such as these. Perhaps a second term will convince the GOP to give up their cynical efforts to stymie growth by encouraging big business and banks to hit "pause" until they are back in power. Perhaps the corporate takeover of the voting process via Citizens United will be curbed. I do not have any certainty. I believe in this great country, and I believe that what makes us wondrous is that we can disagree, but cooperate. The cooperation has been absent with the Republicans. For all their Ronald Reagan invocations, that man was the great communicator, and the great conciliator. He would never hold the future hostage to amass power.
So is my vote the anti-vote? Maybe. It doesn't matter a lick why it is the box I will check. I came to my choice honestly, after reading thousands of articles. I have jumbled my brain, traipsing over to Huff and Drudge and trying to reconcile their world views. (Very small overlap in Venn diagram) I watched both conventions. All debates. I get 3 papers, 2 weeklies, consult Politico, The Moderate Voice, Slate. I have done my own due diligence, and for relief watch Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert so I can laugh at the insanity that politics creates. I have done the work. I am closed for business.
Though I am unmoved by the words on the editorial page, I thank the Tribune for its thoughtful rumination. They echo my desperate plea for bipartisan cooperation, and that is validating. They counter their own pit bull, John Kass, and that is delightfully ironic.
Importantly, they end their endorsement with a plea that should sail to the ears of all who are charged with leading us:
One of these decades, the children in which we now invest our hope, and our love, will speak with today's adults about the America we bequeathed to them. They will praise us for avoiding the financial ravages they watch other nations endure. Or they will condemn us for living ruinously beyond our means and forcing the enormous payback onto them....Mr. Obama, Mr. Romney, whichever of you occupies the White House for the next four years, that praise or condemnation will be your legacy.
After November 6, it is my fervent hope that those sent with the precious mandate to govern will not turn their backs and remain bunkered in the far right and left reaches of our political spectrum. I pray that these public servants will face each other, and work together to lead us. America's future is held hostage by politics, not by governance. Forward, together. We must all demand it.