Getting past the election clutter

Monday, October 6, 2014

We're in the final stretch of the 2014 election cycle, and voter fatigue has set in, at least for this voter.

The spin doctors and reputation scrubbers are hard at work on both sides of the aisle, painting the opponents as Satan in a business suit, and their clients as purer than the driven snow.

The work for voters is separating the truth from the gloss.

Reality doesn't seem to matter to the hired guns that candidates pay to get them elected. Perception is the name of the game.

I've been in the news business a very long time. I know that, between the truth and a lie are 47 different levels of gray, and each little piece of information can be manipulated like an origami puzzle into whatever form the message-passers would like it.

I tend to shut my ears when one of those ads comes on the television screen. I know it will paint a picture of a candidate using carefully selected information, usually out of context. Studies show attack ads are effective, they do sway the minds of people. That's why they are used. They assume most voters won't drill down and find out how tenuous a connection the ads have to reality.

Thank goodness for "smart" televisions and the ability to zoom right through those annoying diatribes.

Harder to ignore are the phone calls.

My television flashes the phone number and name of the caller on the screen when my home phone rings. It's a nice feature, and one that alerts me when I'm about to get telemarketed.

A real live person on the other end of the line is a rarity these days. Generally it's a recorded message that may or may not begin playing when I pick up the phone. Often it's just dead air.

The calls do have an impact, however. They interrupt my dinner, make me stub my toe, hurrying in from the laundry room to answer the phone. Their impact is taking time away from my day and annoying me greatly.

Not a fan of political calls.

Indeed, I come across as a crotchety old lady, but my point is that nothing takes the place of real involvement in the political process. Our duty as citizens is to be informed, and that means taking the time to study the records of candidates, read about the positions they hold in an unbiased, clearly presented format -- like a newspapers for instance (product plug there!).

It's like taking a test in high school. If you try to cram the night before, chances are you won't do as well as if you were listening and taking notes in class throughout the year. The political process is the same way -- you need to pay attention throughout the year, do your homework.

Then you can make informed decisions.