Which Party has most of your interests at heart? Which Party is most prone to take the country to war? Which Party is most inclined to preserve the social safety nets? Democrat or Republican! Which candidate (put your bias aside; bury it, it’s that important) is more likely to attend to the social issues (gun control, wage inequality, race relations, women’s freedom, Medicare / Medicaid, social security benefit, healthcare availability for and accessibility to all, religious freedom, roads maintenance, reliable energy, environmental protection, political freedom, school & education, employment opportunity) that would benefit the majority?
If the elections were held Tuesday, which candidate would you pick to be the next president? Don’t answer that; I already know what your answer would be like. You would choose a Republican if you are Republican; you would choose a Democrat or a Republican if you are a Democrat. The so-called “Independents” fall into one of two camps, Independent-Republican or Independent-Democrat; put differently, the “Independents” would either vote for their party or not vote at all.
Although it’s near impossible to find an Independent-Republican cast his/her vote for a Democrat candidate, there are many examples of Independent-Democrats who voted for a Republican candidate, the latest example of such was the large swath of Independent-Democrats who voted for Ronald Reagan both in 1980 and 1984. That is in essence what you’ve been doing from the time you become of age to vote. – How in the world would I know that, you may be asking yourself; well, it’s a conversation for another day – It is in reality the most vexing problem in American Politics. You have to choose one party or the other – there are only two major political Partys (Republican & Democrat) – even if neither one offers substantive solutions to problems confronted by the country.
Both sides justify the selection of their respective party as offering a better alternative than the other. One can pretty much recite the myriad reasons voters of both parties give to justify their choices at voting time; most of those reasons were provided to the voters by “talking heads” either on the Democrat side or the Republican’s or by the candidate’s campaign talking points.
By talking heads, I mean individuals who host radio talk shows or television programs, individuals who cast themselves as journalists, political experts or analysts but who have no qualm telling you what you want to hear, not necessarily what could be beneficial for the country. Why should they care? Your viewership is their livelihood; large audience – however misinformed – translates into job security, popularity and a large paycheck. The audience they cater to has a very simple request: lie to us, make us feel good. Talking heads have long thrown the mantle of journalism because, to be fair, journalism doesn’t put food on the table.
Those individuals are very conscious of this reality. I used to think it’s because of lack of ethics but I understand now. To the talking heads, it’s a job, it’s a very important job to re-inforce the viewers’ beliefs, however misguided; ask Bill O’Reilly (of Fox) who always brags about Fox’s rating in general, his show in particular. Put differently, he has a large audience; translation, his job is secure; his weekly paycheck is guaranteed. Who would want to jeopardize that? You wouldn’t, would you? To be fair, those talking heads have every right to secure their livelihoods, although at your expense and your children’s.
Think about it. Besides being unethical to the profession (of journalism) they claim to practice, they knowingly, deliberately – for the sake of the paycheck – put you and the country on the wrong path. Well, they fill the airwaves with false, inaccurate, wrong, partisan related, skewed and incomplete information which ultimately translates to putting you on the wrong path. How so, you might ask? Although the choice of an individual for president is as simple as checking a box on the ballot at the voting booth on elections day but what happens next is a chain of events so complex it may take years, sometimes decades to decipher, to understand. And the impact on the country, on the world could be immeasurable, far reaching and long lasting.
Remember what happened when George W. Bush was “selected” in 2001 and elected in 2005? I usually pick on George because he was the last president in office to deal with catastrophes such as Katrina and took the country to war in Iraq – expenses of which are still being paid for by taxpayers – while clearly showing a lack of leadership. The country didn’t have to wait until George got elected to find out he would not be a good president; all the signs were there. Unfortunately, talking heads filled the airwaves and filled your heads. “Journalists” today are mouthpiece for one party or the other.
Think about that for a moment. You voted for George because you are Republican, right? Maybe not! Maybe, you had other reasons. Why did you vote for George W. Bush then? If you give it some serious thought, you’d probably right to blame the talking heads; you should feel guilty about your choice. Or could you be so blinded by your party loyalty to think you made the right choice when you voted George W. Bush into office? Maybe you thought your vote for Obama was the best decision you made in a very longtime; maybe not. Maybe it’s because you believed he was different. Maybe the slogan “Change You Can Believe In” resonated with your aspirations or it was uplifting. Whatever your rationale for your vote, you were quickly disappointed .
The most important question to ask at this point is, how do you choose the next president without repeating past mistakes? I would be the first to admit there is no formula; there is no sure way to figure out ahead of time who will be a good (or mediocre) president. However, there are a few factors to consider before making the selection for the next president. – My preference would be for our political system to have several (major) partys to choose from instead of just those two (Democrat and Republican) the system comprises – We don’t have that; so, here is a list of items to consider:
** Your loyalty should be to the country, not to a Party. I liked the 2008 McCain’s slogan “Country First” although it was just that, a slogan. McCain’s choice of running mate proved the slogan should have been something like “McCain First”. I digress. You’ve probably been a Republican or a Democrat all your life; your parents and grandparents have been voting your party, why would you deviate from your family tradition? The answer is quite simple: your love for the country should supersede the loyalty for your party. Your decision today will impact your children and grandchildren; if it means to elect someone from the other party, so be it.
** You should avoid as much as humanly possible to decide which candidate you’d vote for based mainly or solely on an issue or two the candidate may have embraced. It is very tempting. I’ve seen it; I’ve heard it. For instance, if you are against gay marriage, you may decide to vote for a candidate who shares the same belief, although such candidate may be no match to the other (in terms of experience, vision for the country, etc.). Why in the world would you bet the future of the country in that single issue? After all, voting is not a feel good exercise; so, vote wisely.
** You must avoid as much as possible to let your decisions be guided by talking heads; this is a hard one. The airwaves are filled 24/7 with commentaries, expert analysis and discussions which have one specific objective: to convince you one way or another. For instance, if you listen to Fox Opinion (known and referred to by most as Fox News), you’d hear everything good about the Republican candidates (except those not liked by the hosts) and everything bad about the Democrat candidates. It would have been nice if you could get accurate information to make your own decision; most unfortunately, the talking heads think you are too dumb to make your own decision, so they make it for you.
** You should consider very closely the candidate who outlines his/her vision for the country instead of spending his/her time bashing other candidates. That should be piece of cake, right? After all, most candidates spend a great deal of their time thrashing the other candidates instead of outlining their vision for their country. What those mudslingers (candidates who thrash others) hope to accomplish is to get you to hate the others; it doesn’t matter if you don’t like that particular candidate as long as you hate the others more. So, with every election, you vote for the candidate you hate the least. This time around, you’d be better off supporting a candidate with vision for America.
** You should make every effort to attend a few rallies, preferably of as many candidates as possible. There is no lack of excuses for not doing so; would you still not show up if you were paid to attend? Most people, except for those who are involved (directly or indirectly), never care to attend political rallies; they don’t want to be involved. They hate whatever politicians have to say; they’ve internalized that all politicians are liars, which is true. However, no one can change anything doing nothing. A simple question you ask at a rally may change the whole dynamic of the elections; that cannot happen if you simply stay at home. “If you want to change the world, take a look at yourself and make the change” sings Michael Jackson. Make an effort this election season to attend rallies, not just of candidates from your party but of the other party as well.
** You should keep in the forefront of your mind that all candidates lie to get your vote. There is no need to say more here. You need to read between the lines whenever candidates speak. They cannot afford to speak the truth; they cannot afford to be honest; they cannot afford to be open. That’s the reason the Republican Party is so afraid of Donald Trump; he doesn’t mince words. He says what he thinks, however crude, however raw even at the cost of insulting those who may support him. Should candidates be more like Trump, without the obnoxiousness of course?
** You should keep in mind that talking heads are no smarter than you are. They think they are. Most people who listen to talking heads give them a lot of credit for being smart; well, they are no smarter than you. Unfortunately, most people relinquish their brain power at the mercy of talking heads; even Representatives in Washington are caught quoting talking heads who are blatantly wrong. It is a dangerous proposition to make decision based on statements by talking heads. They’re in the “entertainment business”, not education.
Now that you are properly educated on what to expect, the choice of the next president should be a little easier. Don’t do it to support your party; don’t do it to feel good about yourself; don’t do it because of talking heads and/or talking points. Do it because it impacts your children’s and grandchildren’s future. To select the next president is not an exercise to take on lightly; the whole world will be impacted by the individual who will occupy the Oval Office for the next four or eight years. Choose the next president wisely.