Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Lame Posturing and Barrage of Ads

Even though I am generally of the opinion that politics is a cesspool, there are times I am sorely tempted to see what I could do working for one of these campaigns. And it isn't even that I think I could do some good; it's more like I know I could keep some of these candidates or managers from doing things truly stupid. I honestly do not know why the Democratic candidate for county executive has not made more of a big deal about Preston's essential thievery, among other scummy things she did and does. For that matter, I have no idea of why Preston's people haven't made more of a big deal about Garnar's past job, either.
But the ultimate bad move has to be Claudia Tenney having a news conference yesterday calling for a congressional investigation of her opponent Kim Myers. Why? Because Myers, a scion of the family that owns Dick's Sporting Goods, must have used improper influence to get Dick's a sweetheart deal to relocate Dick's national distribution center here. Let me get this straight. Binghamton is the single largest city in the 22nd Congressional District. It has been on a 60-year death spiral economically, and jobs have been hemorrhaging away for as long as anyone can remember. And even if Tenney's charge is true, which is not at all clear--how is this a bad thing? This is exactly the kind of pull and influence that people want out of their elected representatives. Does this Tea Party nitwit actually think that some yokel out in Otego is going to scratch their heads and say, "Well, I was going to vote for Myers, but she brought 460 jobs to a city an hour away, so I guess I won't?"
Tenney's outburst is what is wrong with the Republican Party today in a nutshell. These people are so ideologically blinded by their own bullshit that they actually believe that the average voter shares their paranoid, narrow-minded concerns. They don't. The average voter cares about perceptions more than reality in any case, but most of them are concerned with job stability, their own chances of relative affluence, and the ability to live their life without undue interference from authority, in that order. All the rest is extraneous. There are some voters motivated by deeper or more prosaic concerns, and there are some voters motivated by less savory ideas, as well, such as racism. But most people that go to the polls on Election Day are not going to be disturbed or inflamed by the idea that an elected representative pulled strings to get a major company to move here. Tenney may be enough of an ideological zealot to be genuinely pissed, but no one other than blind partisans (who weren't going to vote for Myers anyway) is going to be swayed by this crusade, and what few undecideds there might have been aren't going to be persuaded to vote for Tenney by it.
And speaking of undecideds...I am beginning to realize something. Most rational and intelligent people made up their minds in the Presidential race a long time ago. There was some article somewhere yesterday that said most "undecided" voters are beginning to align with Trump. Which is disturbing, to say the least--but not surprising. Because if, after all that has been said and done, after all the media exposure of what a truly despicable and "deplorable" man he actually is, you still haven't made up your mind whether he would an absolute disaster running this country or not--well, you're either terminally flawed or a fucking idiot. I'm not crazy about Clinton, either, and I fully understand the reluctance to vote for her. But vote for a third-party candidate or write in a name. If someone can make a decision to fill out a ballot, at this point, for Donald Trump, you are a failed human being. That you're even thinking about whether it is a viable option at this point means you're someone that should be avoided at all costs.
And speaking of avoiding...I've had the television on more in the last few days, due to the dog getting acclimated to living here, than I have in a year. And GODDAMN, I am sick of political commercials. Make it stop! Make it stop! I can imagine some poor bastard in an interrogation room at a police station, subjected to a barrage of ads, confessing to anything up to the Holocaust just to get out of that room... but all sarcasm aside, this is another area where someone with a modicum of intelligence can make a good living. What kills me about the commercials isn't so much their prevalence but how crude and ugly and grating most of them are. I understand that you only have 30 seconds to make your point. I understand that most campaign managers think most voters are dunces, and that commercials are better off negative and crude to sway them. But the logical leaps in many of them are absolutely galling. The blatantly obvious use of code words would be funny if it wasn't repeated every ten minutes (in this day and age, "liberal" is still being tossed around like "Communist" forty years ago. Stunning--and an indictment of the contempt Republicans have not only for Democrats, but their own base).
As an experience voter, I would actually like to see two things that would improve campaign commercials and make watching TV less of an ordeal every second and fourth autumns. One is that I would require political ads to be 60 seconds long. A minute is a long time to go negative; if you're going to, you pretty much have to make a logical case for your view. The few minute-long ads I've seen have actually been positive ones, with a positive message, that highlight the virtues of the candidate--and while I'm not sure I would like to see an endless diet of those ads, they grate a lot less than the negative ones do. And the second thing is that Citizen's United needs to be tweaked, if the votes aren't there to be overturned, in that if a PAC or organization is going to put something on the air, they should be required to state who they would like to see win the seat. This is partially a reaction to the three-way Tenney/Myers/Babinec contest; there have been a lot of ads ripping all three, but the ones ripping Myers, with one exception, don't state who those putting the ad up would like to see elected. And I don't think that's right.
I am cautiously optimistic that the election results, at least locally, are going to be something I can live with at this time next week. But God, I wish this was over with already.

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