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Conservatives Are From Mars, Liberals Are From San Francisco
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Election Fatigue
by J. F. Kelly, Jr. [writer] 6/13/06

Another California election has mercifully passed, soon to be followed by another. Every season is election season in California, it seems. There is but brief respite for weary voters from the boring, repetitious and insultingly stupid radio and television campaign advertisements, the brochures and flyers that fill our mailboxes, adding to the enormous quantity of junk mail that already clogs the postal system, and the confusing and often misnamed propositions that are now a part of every election.

Voting is indeed a civic duty but in this matter, as in so many others, California overdoes it. I am more familiar with my neighbor’s tidy garage that houses our polling place than I am with my own. For one thing, our state legislature seems incapable of creating legislation unless the voters approve it first.

We spend too much time and money on elections and on campaigning. The public apparently agrees because percentages of eligible voters who actually vote are declining. Who can blame them? The political ad writers treat them as if they were idiots with those dreadfully corny and juvenile dramatizations featuring unconvincing, amateur actors pretending to be just regular voters like you and I or portraying teachers, police officers, fire fighters, doctors, nurses, whatever.

J.F. Kelly, Jr.

J.F. Kelly, Jr. is a retired Navy Captain and bank executive who writes on current events and military subjects. He is a resident of Coronado, California. [go to Kelly index]

There is some speculation over whether or not these silly ads cause voters to actually vote against a candidate or proposition toward which they may have been undecided or even favorably inclined. There is substantial agreement, however, that “attack” ads, messages that virtually ignore the issues and engage in unnecessary and often unwarranted personal attacks, cause some voters to sympathize with the other candidate. And when both sides engage in the mudslinging, some voters react by not voting at all. For many of us, principle comes before the lesser of two evils.

Politicians should pay a price for using character assassination as a campaign tactic or for permitting intentionally deceptive campaign advertising. Citizens should refuse to contribute to candidates or causes that engage in such tactics. The widely accepted notion that anything goes in a political campaign is what gives politics and politicians a bad name and turns the public off. Moreover, dopey, dumbed-down dramatizations are probably convincing only to easily persuaded folks of modest intelligence who are unlikely to make the effort to vote anyway and who have little understanding of the issues in any event.

The two most closely watched California races were the contest to fill Randy Cunningham’s vacated seat in Congress and the mud-wrestling match for the democratic nomination for governor. The former was viewed as a litmus test in determining Democratic prospects for winning control of the House in November. Consequently, it was marked by a huge infusion of funds from both national committees. Much of it went for messages that didn’t even bother to name the candidate they were intended to support. Instead, they went straight for the jugular, attacking the integrity of the opponent. So strident were some that they contained a disclaimer that “no candidate was responsible for the content of this message.”

The Democratic primary contest for governor between State Treasurer Phil Angelides and State Comptroller Steve Westly was, in the view of many, a particularly ugly battle between political lightweights of the Gray Davis variety that mainly demonstrated that neither has the vision or talent to be governor of the nation’s most populous state. Mr. Angelides, nevertheless, will now be catapulted into the national spotlight as the candidate to face celebrity governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger. It would seem a mismatch, but in incurably liberal California, any living Democrat has a chance.

It came as little surprise that illegal immigration was a determinant in the Brian Bilbray-Francine Busby race. Bilbray’s stance against illegal immigration was well known and he benefited from it. Busby shot herself in the foot by her incredible statement about not needing papers to vote, which probably also doomed her chances in November. Most candidates are catching on to the fact that the public is upset over failure to control the border and will campaign accordingly.

Here’s hoping that the campaigning for the November elections, which has already begun, will rise to a higher level. Until it does, look for a continued slide in voter respect for a process which too often insults their intelligence and treats them like morons. In this regard, the ballot for San Diego voters will contain a question regarding the everlasting search for a new airport. Its real purpose is to rally public opinion against the military for refusing to give up part of Miramar, a vitally-needed defense asset, or agree to joint use which it says is unsafe and degrading to the military mission. No one is quite sure of how it will read or what it will mean, but that hardly matters since the outcome won’t be binding, anyway. CRO

copyright 2006 J. F. Kelly, Jr.



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