Politics is a game. That’s understandable: Opposing parties must try to convince us that their candidate is best — and that other candidate is the worst menace to society since some bad event a long time ago that no one actually remembers.
It’s ridiculous what our political sphere has become. Candidates produce so many words in speeches, op-eds and emails, but say very little.
In a recent Wall Street Journal op-ed, Governor Mitt Romney wrote that we need to “restore the three sinews of American influence: our economic strength, our military strength and the strength of our values.”
Cool story, bro. But how?
In the New England Journal of Medicine, President Barack Obama wrote that “we need a permanent fix to Medicare’s flawed payment formula that threatens physicians’ reimbursement, rather than the temporary measures that Congress continues to send to my desk.”
Okay, but how?
I find myself asking “how?” over and over again. I took the liberty of subscribing to the campaign email lists of both Barack Obama and Mitt Romney. I wanted to assess for myself which campaign would eloquently share tangible solutions to the many issues facing the nation. I wasn’t asking for much, just a plan.
It was a decision I soon regretted. After all, each campaign has essentially two goals. The first is to sell themselves out to their constituents and independents; that’s people like me. But candidates are also trying to stir up some resentment: To attack the other guy. Amidst these two contradictory goals, constructive conversation and planning have given way to “Win a meal with Barack Obama” and “Fly with Mitt.”
This sort of advertising would have been blasphemous in previous elections. Seriously, could you imagine “Flying with Richard Nixon” or “Having a meal with Harry Truman?”
When does this pandering end? Will the candidates resort to coming to people’s homes, presenting them with Publisher’s House Sweepstakes checks in order to get elected? I would rather take a candidate who has some quirks and flaws, but has feasible plans in order to get things done, than a mannequin of a candidate. I believe the United States would be better off as well.
But the public eats this kind of advertising up. We feast on it day after day, like the free Swedish Fish or Sour Patch Kids from the Chaplain’s Office.
I understand that candidates must put their best faces forward to gain votes. But is this kind of political pandering really what the American public wants?
We shouldn’t only demand plans from our candidates, though: We should demand they improve those plans by working together.
I’m sure if you sat down an informed Democrat and an informed Republican in some undisclosed location and told them to develop a plan to get back home — and fix the country while they’re at it — they would work together, cooperating and collaborating, to complete their task. Why can’t this be the case for American politics today? How badly does the brown stuff have to hit the fan in order to force political deadlock to look more like Kumbaya around a campfire?
One could blame the party system for its rigidity, the media for its calls for a superhero candidate, the public for not constructively holding elected officials to higher standards and so on. However, we need to realize one thing: If we as people lose sight of the need for rational thought to solve our problems, things will get worse.
To fix things, we need everyone. Not just the 1 percent, 99 percent or 47 percent, but 100 percent. That’s right, everyone needs to play a role in whatever capacity possible. It is too important not to, and apathy and needless division won’t cut it.
Let’s hope the debates provide some of this constructive dialogue. Actually, who am I kidding? That would never work.
Morkeh Blay-Tofey is a senior in Trumbull College. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org .