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Sunday, November 2, 2008

One Last Election Rant

Believe it or not, the 2008 presidential election is finally going to end this week. Having focused more on this election than any other in my life, I’ve learned a lot about politics in our country – at least I think I have – and not all of it is very pretty. But, before it ends, I have a few things I have to get off my chest. Not that anyone should give a damn, but here’s my final pre-election two cents.

I’m almost embarrassed to have offered John McCain a modicum of credit for assuring supporters that there was no reason to fear a Barack Obama presidency. As much as I disagreed with McCain’s thoughts on the future of America, I wanted to believe he had some honor in this campaign. I was na├»ve enough to think he would finally put the brakes on the rhetoric suggesting Obama had ties to terrorists. Instead, the Republicans seemed to merely ramp up efforts to suggest such ties existed, while Sarah Palin continued to openly question Obama’s patriotism.

Last week, when reports about the campaign started to suggest that Obama was going to win, there seemed to be a sudden focus on the Bradley Effect. The suggestion is that white voters might tell pollsters they’d vote for a black candidate, but when they stepped into the voting booth they simply wouldn’t be able to bring themselves to do it. I’m guessing these weren’t talking points being pushed by the Obama campaign.

When John McCain was admonishing supporters for fearing Obama, where the hell did he think they got the idea? Certainly McCain can’t be blamed for the racial tensions in this country, but playing on them seemed to be a cornerstone of his campaign. As I sat down to start this post, the “shocking” news of the night was that Obama’s aunt is an illegal alien. I can’t imagine where that story originated, can you? By Monday they’ll be suggesting Obama’s an actual alien.

Or, maybe McCain will just keep editing audio and video tapes, like he did to make it sound like Obama was degrading U.S. troops (he wasn’t) and Joe Biden was inviting trouble from our enemies (again, not true). If he does, I hope McCain splices together a coherent explanation of how being a fighter pilot makes him a “proven” commodity in handling an international crisis as president. Last time I checked the military liked fighter pilots that followed orders without questioning them. Call me crazy if you must, but I don’t see a correlation between following orders as a pilot and being the guy in the Oval Office giving orders that could affect the entire world.

Then there’s Fox News, which I never really paid much attention to prior to the election. I recently stumbled upon a YouTube video called Barack Obama & Joe Biden Attack People With Disab[i]lities. I posted a comment stating that Fox is not a news outlet, it’s merely a Republican propaganda machine. I predictably got the following reply, “Why are they not a news outlet? Because they disagree with your views? It's the only conservative news outlet. Let it go, you've got plenty of liberal programming available to you. It seems that the democrats won't be happy until they're in complete and total control of everything. I don't know about you, but that's sounds pretty damn SOCIALIST to me.”

The person later apologized, which was a nice surprised, but the point that the comment brought out was key. As I replied, the mere fact, which those who like their coverage acknowledge, that the stations disagrees with any viewpoint proves that it is simply not a news outlet. They offer one, specific slant.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think any of the news coverage has been stellar. Why the candidates are still arguing over what the other guy’s tax plan does in raising or lowering taxes is beyond me. Shouldn’t we know by now? I’m not suggesting that I do. I’m asking why the media can’t set the record straight on what appears to be a fairly concrete issue.

For the record, I’m not a Democrat. It amazes me how people jump to that. The logic of supporting candidates based on party affiliation seems to me to be the ultimate in the dumbing down of democracy.

I found the video I mentioned searching for comments from the candidates on disability issues, which once again are the forgotten issues in the campaign. Of course, Palin is trying to convince us that she’ll be an advocate for people with disabilities. This is apparently based on the fact that she has an infant child with Down’s Syndrome. It’s equivalent to suggesting she’s ready to be president because she’s been governor of Alaska.

Never mind that McCain reportedly met her only once before offering her the second spot on the Republican presidential ticket, that she thinks she keeps an eye on Russia for the country, that McCain was (apparently rightfully) scared to death to even let her talk to the press, and literally went with her back to CBS to attempt to clean up her disaster with Katie Couric. He looked like a parent defending his daughter, but she’s ready to be president because McCain says so.

By the way, being a disability advocate takes more than using the word “special” a lot. Palin may figure that out some day, but she has clearly failed to do so at this point. While her son may have some health issues (I don’t know), he certainly hasn’t dealt with the “social” issues of dealing with life with a disability. Hearing Palin talk, she clearly thinks disability issues begin and end with children. They most assuredly do not.

Someone wake me when any of the candidates figure out that people with disabilities aren’t all children. That we can grow into adulthood, become educated and successful, and that we need a government that removes the physical barriers as well as the barriers of prejudice among educators and employers to allow us those opportunities.

There, I feel better. Of course, even those who will disagree with me will likely agree on my last point. The best news is that the campaign that made Joe the Plumber a household name is almost over.

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