Political “Peace” of Wisdom

This will be my one and only political post. I usually like to keep my opinions off the internet.

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Today, however, I am going to make an exception. I will speak my peace and then sit on my hands (except to respond to your comments).

It has started in this country. The race for the next President of the United States is heating up. There are a ton of candidates running, too many to name here. Many don’t have a chance in you-know-where and there are a few that have already grabbed the spotlight, considered to be front-runners of their respective political party. Citizens of the U.S. vote in November of 2016. Between now and then, there will be an explosion of TV and radio media, along with the headache-inducing drone of endless negative ads meant to send us to our living hell until we vote for the right candidate.

In the meantime, I want to move to England. From a 2010 Chicago Tribune article:

In the 2008 (US) presidential race, the candidates spent a total of $1.7 billion, double what was spent in the 2004 race. In the U.K. election (2010), a spending cap of 20 million pounds, about $33 million, was imposed on each of the major parties. Of course, campaigns there are less expensive partly because of a ban on paid radio and TV advertising or any ads on matters of “political or industrial controversy.”

They have a ban on paid radio and TV advertising? Really? Why are we not doing this? Why do we leave our politicians to torture us for months and months on end? This 2010 U.K. election occurred after just one month of campaigning. One month. I realize that the United Kingdom, geographically, might fit into the State of Texas and candidates do not have to travel far to knock on the doors of their constituents, but I am still jealous.

There’s more, however, from CNN Politics that infers it may not be all honey and roses in British politics:

If politicians feel unloved in America, they should try Britain. Here, voters castigate politicians as liars on live television, tell pollsters by 10-1 margins that their leaders don’t care for the national interest and have descended into a corrosive countrywide funk challenging the very legitimacy of government.

Seriously, I’ve wanted to call U.S. politicians “liars” to their face many times, but instead I simply yell at the TV screen. Perhaps a few voters from the U.K. would like to weigh in on the political process in their country and if it’s any better than what we endure in the U.S.

Getting back to the media…

Last week was difficult for me. Another candidate threw his hat into the ring, a candidate that I will not vote for. Ever. Actually, there are three candidates I will not vote for. Ever. Each time they appear on the news, I feel the small hairs on the back of my neck stand on end. I become angry. I yell at the TV screen and ultimately turn the channel. I fume for at least five minutes afterwards. Eventually, I calm down and realize it’s not worth the indigestion to get so fired up over a few politicians…until the next time they are on TV. Ugh.

The media loves a good story and they will embellish at will to get us fired up, especially certain cable and prime time networks that openly take political sides. I tuned into one of those networks about five years ago and with every show I watched, the angrier I became. “How dare they?” continually circled in my head, along with a few expletives and distasteful thoughts. One day, I had to turn it off for my own well-being and I haven’t been back since. This is how certain TV networks operate. Tell us what you believe we want to hear (like the politicians). Get us angry. Make us go out and vote for your party or candidate because the other candidate is a jerk and the other party is a bunch of morons and I am not a good person if I don’t vote the right way, for the right person. This is negative media politics, 24/7.

There are two things I would ask of U.S. voters for this presidential election. Turn off the TV and do your homework. Don’t let the negative ads or a cable TV show influence the way you vote. I understand that you have your personal political views, as do I, but sometimes our viewpoints get in the way of truth or of wanting to know the truth.

Alex Chrum, a self-professed non-partisan liberal, wrote:

We, as humans, seem to naturally default to those areas that we find comfort in—places of camaraderie, communion, self-affirmation and self-improvement. We try, as often as possible, to avoid situations that are harmful to our success, happiness and overall well-being. As a result, we tend to neglect those people and ideas that might seem threatening. It’s our “fight or flight” instinct. If you’re gay, chances are you aren’t going to actively seek out the company of violent homophobes. If you’re a person of color (any color, that is), you most likely won’t accept an open dinner invitation from a group of white supremacists. Similarly, rarely do we ever seek out stories and viewpoints that run contrary to our own.

Think about her words. We really don’t want to read or hear or discuss viewpoints that are not our own, let alone hang with people that have a different viewpoint. We listen to the spin doctors that are on our side. We set aside opportunities to learn about all political candidates and viewpoints because we have our hands glued firmly against our ears or eyes. We chastise those that don’t agree with us rather than having a rational, intelligent conversation with the opposition.

Do yourself a favor, dear voters, for the Presidential race, a Governor’s race, or for any political campaign now or in the future.

  • Turn off the slanted cable and primetime networks and search out TV and internet sites that are a bit more unbiased. Try WikiNews, The Real News , Reuters ,  The Independent,  The Economist , PBS, BBC or C-Span.  Or any other news outlet that doesn’t cater to one side or the other. Listen or read with your eyes, ears and mind open.
  • Use websites such as FactCheck.orgVotesmart.org, and Ontheissues.org to check all candidates and the issues, not only those that you oppose. Base your vote on fact rather than a negative ad that may or may not be true. Remember that some of those ads are paid for by special interest groups that simply have the goal of getting their candidate elected. Look for the truth, not an angry fairy tale.
  • Have calm conversations with those on the other side of the political fence. Be respectful. Listen to what they have to say about their party and candidate. You don’t have to agree or change your vote, simply hear the other side without an enraged comment or the wagging of a fuming finger.
  • Career politicians want to get elected and re-elected. That’s their job. Keep this in the back of your mind as they kiss the babies and promise not to raise taxes as you line up at the polls. Know their agenda and their political history. Has your potential candidate kept his or her promises in the past?
  • Don’t spew political vitriol or throw contempt around on Facebook, WordPress, political blogs, or at your neighbor. It’s not becoming and it doesn’t make anyone change their mind. It only rolls downhill into a big ball of hateful crap. You may think the blogger/commenter/neighbor is a dick, but your hate-filled words make you a dick.
  • Finally, go out and VOTE. It is your right (and some say duty) in this democratic country. Exercise the knowledge that you have obtained. Vote for the person you believe will do the best job not only for you, but also for the Independent, Republican, Democratic and Socialist neighbors in your suburb. Your vote does count.

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So there it is. I have spoken my peace about the 2016 Presidential election. My hope is that voters will consider some of what I have said – that doing a little research, checking facts on all candidates, having a productive conversation over opposing viewpoints, and being respectful of all voters will have a positive effect on the way we vote, who we vote for, and the overall outcome of the election.

In conclusion, I must take my own advice. Crazy cat lady memes and cute baby photos on Facebook are not as important as a knowledgeable vote. Hold me to that, please.

And keep your finger on the mute button…in case one of those negative ads tries to send you to hell and back.

Have a happy, insightful and peaceful Presidential Race, America!

PS: Dear readers, I encourage your comments and any insights you may have in uncovering true facts about political candidates. I only ask that you keep it clean and respectful. Thank you.

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36 responses to Political “Peace” of Wisdom

  1. joannesisco says:

    I’m not American but I feel your frustration. This negative, personal attack ad style of campaigning has been adopted by a certain party here in Canada and I find it exceptionally distasteful.
    True issues seem to be irrelevant … it has degenerated into mud slinging, misrepresentation of the facts, and outright bullying.

    … is civilization becoming uncivilized? I think so … it started at the top.

    • bikerchick57 says:

      What bothers me is that even though most people will say they hate negative ads, there are many that pay attention to and believe in them. Negativity and hate breeds more of the same. That’s why I ask that voters do their homework and not get caught up in the nastiness. We could stop the bullying if we all refuse to partake in it.

      • joannesisco says:

        Exactly! Now we know who is really *running* the country … certainly not the people we’ve elected.

  2. Dan Antion says:

    I love this post Mary. I watch as little political news as I can and I try to form well-informed opions. I hate this period and the fact that it gets longer every cycle. The only way to make it stop is to make it ineffective. I know you and I can’t do that, but we can subtract our votes from the pile that can be won with these tactics.

    • bikerchick57 says:

      Exactly Dan! I really want to see a candidate who comes out and says, “Hey, never mind about the other people running. Let me tell you about myself and what I can do for you.” He/she would get the same 10,000 bonus points that I awarded you the other day.

  3. You are so right and I hate to burst your bubble. But the majority of US voters will not do their homework. They will continue to listen to Fox news, ABC news or worse, they will believe what they hear and will stick with old fashion believes.

    Like you, I had to write about it, I wasn’t capable to shut up any longer. It’s painful to watch and I wonder how we explain to the world and to our homeless and hungry people why we waste Billions in an election like this. What for?

    As for me, the one I wish would run…doesn’t. The rest is debatable, but doesn’t excite me much. I don’t get excited anymore, I try to vote for the lesser evil so it seems.

    As for the dude with the bad hair, don’t get me started on him 🙂

    The two party system is painful. It’s like a bad two step…back and forth. A few smaller parties, who can be the ones tipping the scale are missing here..big time.

    • bikerchick57 says:

      I believe it’s time that we totally dissolve political parties and let candidates stand on their own merit. Then the country wouldn’t be divided because they are Republican or Democrat or something else. No parties, no special interest groups, no lobbyists allowed. That would make a huge difference, but I don’t believe it would happen in my lifetime. And I believe you are right that most voters will not do their homework because it’s much easier that way. I want American to truly make their vote count and not stand for the hate and vitriol of some politicians. Like the guy with bad hair!

      • One day, when you are bored look up Beppe Grillo and read his story. He ruffled the feather’s of the Italian politicians. Came out of nowhere, had the brain and used the internet and blogging only.

  4. Ally Bean says:

    I live in a state this is one that the pollsters adore. Last presidential cycle we were inundated with companies calling to get our opinions. Beyond the annoying calls themselves, what struck us both was that when we answered the pollster’s questions, the questions were so biased that no matter what we said our views were not accurately represented. It was incredibly frustrating– and eye-opening as to what these news outlets are really doing. This time round we talk with no one.

    • bikerchick57 says:

      That’s a good idea. I never answer calls from pollsters, for the reason you state. It’s another form of manipulation by media.

    • I love it now when the democrats call me. 40-year democrat and not happy with the party (tho the other will not work for me either.) So now when they call me I start in with all kinds of comments and time and energy and don’t let them off until I am ready to hand them to my cat to discuss his worries.

      • Ally Bean says:

        Made me laugh on that one. Only wish my cats, may they RIP, were around to talk with the pollsters. Good idea.

  5. ledrakenoir says:

    Very well written – dear americans, we in Europe have similar problems, so we understand you very well – only I believe we in Europe are a little bit in front of the americans – about to say stop to the politicians and the media, but we are far far from good enough at it yet… :/

    Again, very well written.

    • bikerchick57 says:

      Thank you! Keep at it in Europe, perhaps the U.S. will follow suit some day and we can enact laws (although why do we really have to do that?) to stop the incessant ads and pollsters and extreme negatitivy.

  6. Violent homophones? So There, Their and They’re walked into a bar and started a brawl?

    Sorry. You are being serious and intelligent and I am being silly and childish. But it was a funny typo.

    This is a great post, M-J. I’m going to bookmark it for our own political campaign due next year. I didn’t realise yours was so loooong. Jeepers. There was a great article in one of our papers recently by a great commentator about the lack of civil debate in this country. It’s so true. Politicians on both major sides of politics are very much on the nose with this country. (It’s here if you’re interested.)

    I work as an Electoral Officer on polling days and any time someone whinges about having to vote (it’s compulsory here), I remind them that they can’t complain about what they get if they don’t participate. That usually stops the whining.

    When it all gets too much, I also suggest you sit down and watch “Dave” and pretend it could really happen. 🙂

    • bikerchick57 says:

      I missed the homophones! That’s too funny! I also typed in the wrong year at first, so I guess I better work on my proofing. Anyhow, I would be honored if you shared my post next year, during your election time. It is true, there is no civil debate and no middle ground. Everyone seems to be extreme left or extreme right, not as many moderates. And when they act like children – I’m going to take my ball and go home and stomp my feet and hold my breath til I turn blue in the face – it totally turns me off. I think of late that there must be many deceased Presidents turning over in their grave at the lack of compromise between the parties. When did we get this way? As for the whining, I agree. If you don’t go out and vote, you can’t complain about the person who gets in. That is all.

      • Our latest government campaigned on the idea that “the adults would be in charge” but they’ve been more childish than the last lot. Worst government ever and totally clueless.

        I’m glad you laughed about the homophones. I debated for a while whether it was too nitpicking to point it out. But it was too good a joke to pass up. It still makes me giggle. 😀

  7. I’m going to England in a couple of weeks. I applaud their electoral process, though many of my English friends do not. (Of course, they don’t want ours screwed up, money-grubbing one, either.) I insulated myself from this during the last presidential election, but Facebook will grab ALL THE MONEY this go round. I won’t be able to get away from it online this time, I fear.

  8. M-R says:

    A wise and thoughtful pronouncement, dear M-J ! We, too, look to federal elections at the end of next year, and there will be rage and sledging on all sides. Well, on the sides of the two major parties, anyway. We too will be deluged with TV, etc., advertising. It’ll be hell.
    We must keep each other cheerful. Or try, at least …

    • bikerchick57 says:

      I plan to watch as little TV as possible and keep the mute button in sight. I just can’t stand those ads, had too many years of them. So, you cheer me on this year and I’ll do the same for you next year, okay?

      • M-R says:

        I shall seek to do whatever makes you happy, me old friend. XO

  9. I read the smarter places, including overseas rags. I am thoroughly disgusted with all except one candidate who I hope could have a chance. I am tired of the absurd unless it is Monty Python.

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