Tuesday, June 5, 2012

A Buck & A Half

Today is the first Tuesday following the first Monday of June. Big effing deal; right? Well, consider that Election Day is the first Tuesday following the first Monday of November. For all intents and purposes Election Day is but one hundred and fifty days away. A buck and a half. Not a lot of time at all.

Mitt Romney has finally secured the Republican nomination and the fervent support for a member of the West Virginia State Prison system or two notwithstanding, President Obama has breezed to the Democratic nomination essentially unfettered and uncontested. It took almost forever to get to this point (an impression helped along by the fact that Obama began his Presidential campaign shortly after putting his hand down after taking his oath as a member of the United States Senate and Romney has been pursuing the Republican nod since the Olympic torch was doused at Salt Lake City) but we are finally down to two.

I am enough of a cynic that I count H.L. Mencken among my heroes. Mencken who once defined Democracy in the following manner: "Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard." He also once wrote that, "Every election is a sort of advance auction sale of stolen goods." Not exactly a pie-eyed optimist. Sadly, experience has taught us that there is more than a kernel of truth in Mencken's words. Sometimes considerably more than just a kernel.

We the people of these United States have one hundred and fifty days to get our heads unwedged from our collective asses, do our homework and go to the polls on November 6 and make an informed, educated choice for the office of President of the United States. Personally I long for the old days in which people did not vent their spleens at and towards one another on the issue of politics at every turn. I am enough of a realist to realize that those days are long gone. And they are never coming back.

Perhaps though instead of a campaign season during which we talk at and over one another spewing rhetoric and mistakenly equating volume for substance we can turn this thing around. Perhaps this election season we can talk about "issues" that are truly issues. Impossible? I think not. I think an easy first step in accomplishing that goal is the removal of the messengers from the equation. Do not rely upon Fox News to tell you everything great about Romney and bad about Obama and MSNBC to run its washing machine's spin cycle in precisely the opposite direction. Candidates live now in the information age. Want to know Romney's public position on a particular issue? Go here. Want to know what the incumbent has up his sleeve for Term #2? Go here. Should those sites be the end of your inquiry? Of course not. They are however a great place to start.

I do love H.L. Mencken and his lifetime's worth of caustic observations. But how about this November we prove him wrong? He who wrote, "I confess I enjoy democracy immensely. It is incomparably idiotic, and hence incomparably amusing." This year how about we make it just a degree or ten less amusing?


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