Friday, October 24, 2008

Election Exercise #5: Avoiding End-of-the-Stretch Election Traps

note: smarty pants posts are my routine thoughts on current events.  And even though we're all getting terribly tired of it, the elections are indeed current...

Well, I've studied my issues.  I've gotten to know my candidates (the local ones).  I've figured out where I need to vote.  And I've even tabulated my taxes.  Just one last thing before I hit the poles:  I have to dodge the cleverly laid, end-of-the-stretch, election traps.

These traps are designed to distract me, to tickle my fancy, and elicit an emotional (as opposed to rational) response.  They are as follows:

1.  Apocalyptic claims.  You've heard them before.  They are the ones that promise the END of the WORLD at the advent of so-and-so being elected. or this bill being passed, or that judge being confirmed.  Yes, I understand that people are passionate about candidates and causes, but do we really think that the immediate outcomes of this election cycle will dramatically result in civilization as we know it crashing to an end?  Given the testimony of history, I'd say it's highly unlikely.  And I'm skeptical of anyone who suggests otherwise.

2.  Hyper-partisanship.  As if we don't have enough partisanship during the year, it seems intensified during this final stretch.  Now, a dose of partisanship is good for any country--keeps democracy on its toes.  But when members of either party start publicly suggesting that all the troubles that ail us are strictly to blame on the "other guys," I start to tune out.  In government, like everything else, it takes two (or more!) to tango.

3.  Oversimplification.  In our age of 30 second sound bites, it is efficient and practical to squeeze highly complicated issues (like the demise of our economic system) into neat, finger-pointing, stump-ready packages.  Oh lament the listener who believes it is that simple!  Contrary to what we may be led to believe, politics, regardless of who's driving, never have the luxury of operating in a vacuum.  Rather, they are thrown into the jumble with everything else (like business, education, religion, and culture), and thereby Way exceed the sound bite time limit.

I, for one, will resist these attempts to persuade my voting decision, and will instead make a choice based on the information I learned from my other election exercises!  Trap endured (only 2 more weeks) and avoided!

Did I miss any traps?  Let me know what you think by emailing me at or commenting here.

To catch up on previous election exercises, read below:

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