I’ll start with this: I am a political science major and I do not follow the elections. Maybe that’s a lie; superficially we all follow the elections. In fact, that’s what will make up my contribution to this blog: A somewhat critical analysis of my personal experience with, and observations on, passive election watching. I’ll leave the deeper stuff to the more interested and qualified bloggers.
I’m going to take a risky opening shot from behind my flimsy pseudonym and say that presidential elections are to America what a period is to a woman. America’s time of the…every four years? Think about it: the mood swings, the regularity, the inevitability, the inescapability, the indication that things in the overall system are running smoothly. The blood. Also, it seems like other countries don’t want to get too intimate with America until it’s over.
I use the period metaphor for three reasons. One, I find it fits exceptionally well. Two, it makes me feel clever and really for me there is no better reason to be blogging than to feel clever. Three, its use explains more than just the functions of elections; it also illustrates nicely how messy and generic they seem to me, personally.
Now, I don’t want to be taken for completely ignorant. I understand the terms. I know my economics. I know my share of government, legality, and rhetoric. I would treat myself to saying I know more than my share of US history. But I still can’t bring myself to take elections as a serious game changer. This brings me back to my period, metaphor.
The mood swings: During its time of every four years, the country gets whipped into a bi-polar frenzy of backs and forths. But come spring everyone is back to the same disillusionment, indifference, or satisfaction they had before the election. Don’t believe me? Talk to someone about politics now and talk to them next March. Pre Election Syndrome.
The regularity: We always know its coming, like the rotations of the sun. Mother Nature herself seems to will every election, come civil war or depression. Every four years for the rest of Americas life. And there’s no escaping it. It is,
Inescapable: It’s going to happen, it’s going to end. We’re all going to suffer through it. Maybe this time we need an extra handful of feminine hygiene products, but it’s always the same tango.
The indication that things in the overall system are running smoothly: Hey! At least we’re not pregnant…with autocracy? We’re a democracy still, sort of. We at least get to subject our rulers to an absurd rodeo of financing and speeches in exchange for the privilege to rule over us.
The blood: You’d think Mitt and Barack were high school girls and America was their circle of friends the way they talk about one another. The character bashing is almost funny. If I said what these guys said about each other to someone I know I would, rightfully, be hit.
And then the period’s over and things are the same as before. The drones keep buzzing, the taxes keep being collected, and congress keeps passing or not passing laws. And I develop more or less exactly the same opinion of the new guy as the old guy: he’s doing well in some things, okay in others, terrible in others. Oh, but at least the world will get intimate with us again.
By now I’ve either revolted your sense of what a good metaphor choice is or I’ve hooked you. Quickly, for the record, I think periods are a beautiful and understandable thing. It’s nature, its great, I promise. Don’t hunt down my real name; it’s really not worth your time. I’m a paper tiger.
Let’s just move right along into some observations of the election and how people are interacting with it, coming from my place of relative indifference.
No one seems to really know what they’re talking about. This is an excellent general rule for people everywhere always, me included, but it goes double during elections. A friend of mine said the other day that a pet peeve of his is when people talk about Iran. My understanding of why he feels this way is because to bomb or not to bomb is the current “thing” informed people are supposed to have opinions about these days. Yet they never seem informed, though their air of unconcerned certainty that we are days away from obliterating/sparing Iran would certainly lead one to believe so. Same goes for voters.
I want to reiterate before going on that I have not taken the time to inform myself on the pressing electoral issues beyond my own preexisting pool of knowledge. But that doesn’t means I can’t spot weathervane chatter topics when I hear them, or factually dubious statements when I hear those too. This brings me to the few core buzzwords around the candidates which seem to have finally stopped buzzing and have settled on each one’s respective face. It’s these general and vague ideas about each candidate’s position that I will concern myself with and, really, it’s these general ideas exclusively that I am qualified to write about; its also these ideas, exclusively, I suspect, that America ultimately bases its decisions on.
Let’s start with our challenger, Mitt: Gaffe. Reduced taxes. The Rich. The 1%. Vouchers. Business man. Private Sector. Small government. Mormon. Electable. Spending cuts.
And our defender of the crown of the world’s most overworked man: Raised taxes. The poor. The 99%. Obamacare. Socialist. Public sector. Big government. Incumbant. Not spending cuts? Atheist.
I find that people paste these tired buzzwords together with incompatible political vocabulary much like I paste together silly nonsensical sentences with word magnets on my fridge.
Let’s take this to the home turf real quick. What these sorts of buzzwords seem to do is provide the toolkit for convincing yourself that your opinion is informed and correct. At LC, for example, the prevailing sentiment is not that Obama is a better choice and Romney is a worse choice. Rather, it is that Obama is good and Romney is bad. And that’s sort of what it is with everyone whose made up their mind long before they were supposed to, which is most people. Independents don’t seem to exist and if they do, I don’t buy that people so indecisive or indifferent- like me- could make a difference through sheer power of not picking a side until the last minute. It seems like the country will go whichever way reflects more people from one side going out and getting their invaluable “I voted” sticker than the other side, and generally whatever mood America happens to be in come election day- and these two guys will spend the cure to AIDS nudging our moods towards them.
That brings me to another observation. Every new electoral revelation, every re-circulated headline, seems to push the electorate mood slightly one way or the other. It appears from where I stand that Obama will win because that’s where the vague mood of the country, coming to me via snippets of news, is going to be come Election Day. I myself will probably vote Obama because I think he has done well with what he got and I like the man’s foreign policy and I’ll give him a shot with second term freedom and because I want my sticker too. But really my vote to me means about as much as which shade of blue California is going to be come November. Though I can’t wait for the debates. The debates are like a great American pastime. You get to cheer on your team and yell profanities at the other. I guess if I pick Obama and join the LC home team I’ll at least have someone to yell for/at with my friends.