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Winter of our discontent: Facts absent from election
Nobody panic when I tell you this, but we’re less than three weeks away from the election. I know. I freaked out when I realized that, too. We’re within a month of deciding who is going to lead a country of over 300 million people for the next four years, and we know nothing about the candidates.
Let me clarify: we know Barack Obama is black and Mitt Romney has hair TV presidents would kill for. We know Paul Ryan loves him some P90X and Joe Biden has a lovely tendency to say “fuck” in front of microphones. We know that Michelle Obama has wonderful arms and Ann Romney has MS, and we’re not even voting for them in November. What we don’t know, however, is everything else.
This isn’t because I’m ill-informed. I subscribe to the New York Times, my favorite app is The Associated Press, and I haven’t missed an episode of The Daily Show in over six months. I’m even watching a live feed of this week’s presidential debate as I write this piece, although you could chalk that up to excellent procrastination skills. The point is, I’m a well-informed voter, and I still don’t know the things that really matter.
From tax plans to employment numbers, these are the most important domestic policies that will face whoever wins in November. These are issues that will affect every single Hoya currently enrolled in Georgetown as we enter the job market after college. And, for the life of me, I don’t know a single number from either candidate’s policy.
I’m not talking about poll numbers, although those are the only ones that seem to ever be mentioned. I mean facts like how our country’s debt is currently over 16 trillion dollars, or how one out of every two college grads are jobless or unemployed. These are numbers that matter, not how much Ann Romney’s last dress cost or how many police officers are in the president’s motorcade.
This goes beyond numbers, though. Plain, simple facts are absent from this election season. Anything from blatant falsehoods to obfuscations about policy from both parties are commonplace in the ongoing soap opera we call “being elected president.” I still don’t know what Romney’s tax plan other than his sweeping statements on “revenue-neutral” this and “tax-cuts” that. Obama still hasn’t given me a good answer on how to increase job growth. Both campaigns are doing it, and the sad thing is, it’s working.
I’d like to think the American electorate isn’t stupid, I really would. But if one debate performance where our president doesn’t land as many “zingers” as the contender means the difference between re-election or not, that’s just stupid. Frankly, it’s stupid that those things changed poll numbers in the slightest.
I’m not sure if voters realize this, but picking your country’s president is a bigger deal than picking the prom king. In fact, in Joe Biden-speak, the election is what would be known as “a big fucking deal.” It seems obvious that this quadrennial contest should be taken seriously, with careful attention by voters given to the positions of both candidates. Unfortunately, this is where the election season goes far off the track.
From designated “spin rooms” outside of the debates to Fox News and MSNBC waging war on the airwaves, not to mention angry Internet commenters constantly shouting about who is the best candidate, it seems like the election is more about maintaining personae than explaining how the candidates will govern. This is unconscionable.
Securing the title “President of the United States of America” isn’t the end all be all, there are four years of actual governing that have to happen after the big showdown in November. Voters cannot rationally decide on a candidate to govern this country if all they know is the vague malarkey being spewed forth by the campaigns.
I know it’s probably too late to change the way this election is being run, that we’re stuck with this horrible, factless limbo. But, I’d like to think that it could change. If the electorate demands answers, then we will get them. If we say we need the unspun facts, then that’s what we’ll get. And if we put our collective foot down and demand that candidates actually explain their platforms to the public, then maybe we’ll get that much better of a president.
You can argue the merits or disadvantages of Big Bird and PBS all you want, but I think it’s Count von Count and his reliance on numbers that we should all be listening to.