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Voting In The Big Game

In 2008, then candidate for president, Barrack Obama stated unequivocally that he was opposed to gay marriage and the black Christian community embraced him for his support of a fundamental tenet of their faith and his racial heritage. So did the gay and lesbian community despite the fact that he opposed the rights for which they were fighting.

In 2012, President Barrack Obama had an epiphany and now supports gay marriage. The gay and lesbian community remain steadfast in their support encouraged by this reversal but so does the black Christian community despite it. I don’t criticize the President for changing his position. He’s human just like the rest of us and most of our opinions and beliefs evolve with time.

Before anyone gets their knickers in a twist, this isn’t a blog post about gay marriage. Regular readers of my web site already know that I support gay rights and have written extensively about it. This is a post about how we select the person for whom we will vote and the thinking, or lack of it, that goes into it.

Let’s stop for a moment and take an honest look at the Obama Administration’s record.

On the plus side, President Obama was successful at implementing a form of universal health care something most Americans have wanted for a very long time. Even more impressive, it is a program that prevents people from being denied health insurance due to a pre-existing condition.

On the negative side, the program is resulting in a rapid increase in the number of employers who are dropping existing health plans and leaving it to their employees to get their own health insurance at their own cost. Further, it is underfunded and $750 billion will be transferred from Medicare to healthcare over the next few years.

The President inherited an economy that was nose-diving globally. The North American auto industry was in the tank and the President intervened and saved the jobs those companies provided. Unemployment was over 7% and during his four years in office he has seen increased job growth every month. On the down side the jobs that have been lost were good-paying manufacturing jobs while the jobs that are being created are low-paying retail and service sector jobs. More to the point, the unemployment rate has not improved and remains at just under 8%.

Unfortunately, the President’s energy policies have been less balanced.

His energy program is confused at best with decisions to block oil exploration and development off U.S. coastal waters while providing Brazil with more than $2 billion to develop oil projects off their coastline. Brazil got the cash and the jobs, the United States gets to buy the oil when it’s drilled.

He blocked development of the Keystone pipeline which would have provided thousands of high-paying jobs across many economic sectors and through many different states. It would have also contributed to reducing America’s dependence on oil from countries in the Middle East and other less friendly nations.

Despite the fact that technology has improved to the point where coal is now a much cleaner energy source than ever, the President has attacked that industry with a vengeance. As a result he killed more high-paying jobs and without an effective and cost-efficient alternative energy source in place, is also undermining America’s energy independence.

Sustainable energy projects received billions in funding only to see almost all of the major beneficiaries of that government largesse go bankrupt leaving American taxpayers with nothing to show for their investment other than ever increasing oil and gas prices. Gas prices in the United States are more than double what they were in 2008. This is not an international phenomenon. In Canada, gas prices on October 22, 2012 are almost exactly the same as they were on October 22, 2008.

Poverty remains a major issue in America with more than 26 million people living below the poverty line. This despite the fact that the United States is one of the richest nations on earth and spends $1 trillion-a-year to combat poverty. No effort has been made to resolve the issue of poverty or to attempt to spend all that money more efficiently.

The President was successful in finally taking out Osama Bin Laden and has withdrawn American troops from Iraq, ending that costly war. He has also announced, in conjunction with America’s allies, a withdrawal date for pulling American troops from Afghanistan and ending that war. These can only be labeled as foreign policy successes.

Unfortunately, the same cannot be said about Libya. The President’s administration was careless and unprepared for the attack on the American consulate in Benghazi. Further, the President has not been forthcoming with the American people about what took place and the entire mess is turning into a foreign policy and political failure of both tragic and immense proportions.

All of this to say that there are both positive and negative issues surrounding this Presidency. Elections are, first and foremost, about the current government’s record in office but not exclusively and the same analysis should be given to the opposing candidate(s) record and platform before reaching a decision on who to vote for.

Or at least, you would hope that is how it would work. Unfortunately it isn’t.

Much of what passes both for media coverage and informed discussion centres on the absurd. I’ve heard more about binders full of women, free birth control, Candy Crowley’s debate performance and analysis of the third presidential debate which hasn’t even happened yet, than all of the real issues combined over the past week. The possible exception is Benghazi and that seems to be more about mitigating or expanding the scandal depending on the bias of the news organization doing the reporting or the blogger or tweep posting the opinion.

The simple truth is that most people’s minds were made up before the election campaign even began and the issues, the administration’s record and the debates are pretty much irrelevant. Much was made of Mitt Romney’s bounce from the first debate but I would submit that bounce came from conservatives who had been holding back because they were unsure if they liked Mr. Romney or not. It certainly didn’t change the minds of many Democrats.

Nope. The simple reality is that facts have become irrelevant. Need proof?

A friend of mine who runs a highly successful website called Grumpy Opinions drew my attention to a recent episode on the Jimmy Kimmel Show. They took their cameras out into the street to randomly ask people for their thoughts on the debate the night before.

The only problem? There wasn’t a debate the night before.

Before you dismiss these people as wingnuts who probably won’t vote and therefore irrelevant, give your head a shake. I get confronted almost daily by people who are incensed by something I’ve written about the President or the administration but who have never taken the time to inform themselves about the issues or the facts surrounding them. It’s all opinion and like most opinion, weak and unsubstantiated.

Increasingly, a significant number of those people are in the mainstream media.

The media have turned the debates into Monday Night games complete with super-graphics, theme music, ongoing in-depth analysis both pre and post-game and the endless interpretations by the same talking heads about what it all means. Opinion is so entrenched in the mainstream media that you can actually turn the sound off on  your television and know what is being said because it has all been said a hundred times before.

It’s the Big Game now and has all of the dignity and substance of a football game; perhaps even less. For our part, we put about as much effort into preparing for the final game on Election Day as we do in going to the stadium.

Opinion? -check. Attitude? -check. Popcorn? –check. Facts? – don’t need ‘em. It’s a home game.

I used to watch the Jerry Springer Show from time to time to the amazement of my wife. She used to ask me how I could watch that when it was so mindless and I told her it was too remind myself why our countries were in such terrible shape. “These people,” I used to tell her, “can vote.”

I was wrong though. It isn’t that that there are too many who can vote based on opinions into which they have put no thought………..the scary thing is that they do vote.

© 2012 Maggie’s Bear
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