The 2008 Presidential Campaign is Depressing Me ~ News, Politics and Anything Else I Want to Say

Saturday, September 13, 2008

The 2008 Presidential Campaign is Depressing Me

And they're off! Since the end of the Republican convention the 2008 Presidential campaigns have kicked it into high gear. I was really looking forward to this election. First, there was no way George Bush was going to win this one. Second, we have 2 candidates who looked like they were going to run positive campaigns and tell us why they should be elected instead of why their opponent shouldn't be elected. I'd much rather vote for the candidate who is going to be the best for our country instead of trying to decide which candidate is going to be least terrible.

But of course all the hopes of a positive campaign have since disappeared. Mr. 9/11 (Rudy Giuliani) got things warmed up at the Republican National Convention with personal attacks by belittling being a community organizer and misrepresentations, all with the laugh of a hyena (Giuliani RNC 2008 transcript). I could overlook that though. I knew Giuliani was an ass before his speech and was just glad he wasn't the one on the ticket. I was hopeful that Alaskan Governor and VP candidate Sarah Palin would turn us back on a positive note but she spouted out more of the same. We got the same community organizer line and more "this is why our opponent is bad" (Palin RNC 2008 transcript). Some say this was all "red meat" for the party loyalists. Fine, but party loyalists aren't the only ones watching. Undecided voters are watching too.

Moving on from the Republican convention things really got crazy though. There were all the investigations into the complete unknown Sarah Palin. Some comments surrounding her went too far but there certainly was no media conspiracy to smear her. The media was doing their job investigating an unknown candidate and all the dirt they found was all new, all at once. It is their job to keep politicians in check. Either way, the pundits can say what they want. I want the facts and then I am most interested in what candidates have to say and what their campaigns put out. What are their talking points. What are their tv and radio ads?

When we get to this phase of the campaign though, things went farther down hill. Misleading statements are flying around faster than you can keep up. I think the piece Blizzard of Lies by Paul Krugman covers all the big ones so far the best. (if you only read one link from this post, read that one) Maybe this video pointing out the distortion of the truth by the McCain campaign will enlighten you some too.

Politics are dirty and politicians lie. That is a known fact. It is so known that it is often a joke. But it is a sad joke because the truth of the matter is negative campaigning works. Look at George Bush's win in 2004 as a good example of this. We even have a new term for this now: swiftboating. The saddest part is people believe these lies and then vote based on them.

The thing this week that pushed me over the edge though was a story on NPR where voters in York, PA Examine Race. The comments in that story that really stuck in my mind were the lady who did not trust Barack Obama. Let me quote:
Leah Moreland, the woman who said she grew up sheltered from prejudice, plans to vote for McCain. Party loyalty is also part of her decision. But her cultural compass also comes into play. She says her gut tells her not to trust Obama.

"I look at Obama, and I have a question in my mind," she says. "Years ago, was he taken into the Muslim faith? And my concern is the only way you are no longer a Muslim is if you are dead, killed. So in my mind, he's still alive."

Although Barack Obama has said repeatedly he is not a Muslim and has never been a Muslim, Moreland is still unconvinced.

"There is something about him I don't trust," she says. "I don't care how good a speaker he is, I just can't trust him."
After I heard this, I cried. Seriously. The claim that Barack Obama is Muslim is a one of those lies left over from the primaries but people still believe it and that is what scares and depresses me the most. It is just not true. This lie about Obama was not enough to bring the emotion about to make me cry though. It was the combination of it being false yet people will still base their vote on it but most importantly that it doesn't matter even if he was. There is nothing bad about electing a Muslim president even if he was. I don't see our country doing that anytime soon but it isn't a bad thing if we do.

How can we have a functioning democracy without educated citizens voting? Our elections have come down to talking point and smears. Who said what and what is your life story are important when they shouldn't matter so much. We need to vote based on what candidate has the best policy and the best ability to carry out those policies.

I want the best President, not the least worst President.

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