Political Cynicism – Part I – The Voter

In order to maintain a readable length for this subject, I will be covering the topic in three parts. Be sure to return for “Part II – The Politicians” to be posted in the very near future.

Ballot Box

Is it wrong to be a political cynic? Is it seen as unpatriotic to question our cherished American political system? Is it misguided to believe that doing the same thing over and over again will only result in the same outcome?

Our politicians have spent millions of dollars in their last-ditch efforts to win our vote. Every media outlet has provided us with the parts of accurate information they hope will sway our choices. We eagerly await the results, hoping that voter turnout is high, or at least high in the demographic that supports our choices. We want and pray our candidates win. This is the great American experiment, democracy in action. Those being governed having a choice in who governs them. And thankfully, that part still works. One person, one vote. We all have the opportunity to choose who we think can best lead us at all levels of government. But short of that one shining success of democracy, it goes downhill fast.

The Voter

Anyone who can overcome a whole-hearted disdain for the political system will be likely to vote. Some will glean their information from the media, others from debates, others from commercials, some from friends and family, and a small few from the actual voting records or past performance of their candidates. Why is the last group of voters the smallest? It is just the way we live in modern times. Our time is consumed by work, family, kids, friends, hobbies, home, socializing, activism, church, volunteering, social media, entertainment, and all manner of things which devour the twenty-four hours each day allows us. It is hard sometimes to find the time to add anything to our already hectic lives that requires only the smallest of commitments of our time. We must now rely on outside sources to spoon feed us the information we will use in making our electoral decisions. There is no time to research voting records or unbiased information that is readily available as public information. We choose to have our sources do the research, filter the information, and then present it in a brief and easily digestible format. Unfortunately, we believe that our sources are providing information with no bias to how the information may lead us in our decision. This, sadly, is not the case. There is not a web site, newspaper, TV station, blog, commercial, or other convenient form of getting information that is not skewed by its own ideology and wants. Unless you can get to the “raw data”, everything will be filtered and selected based on giving you the information that source believes moves you to accept their choice of what is best. Let’s skip the example of our local paper supporting one candidate over the other. That certainly should lead us to believe that their reporting could somehow be biased as to what information is reported for consumption and consideration and what information is omitted. Let’s move to the “Editorial” section, specifically the “Letters to the Editor” area where the readers and subscribers to the newspaper are given a chance to express their own thoughts and ideas. They have the opportunity to have their voice heard, even if it does not follow the best interest of the newspaper, right? Wrong! Note the small area at the bottom of the page which states that the only letters published are selected from those letters that have met the agreed consensus of the editorial staff. Let me say this more simply. If the Editor, Asst. Editor, HR Manager, and others agree with what you are saying, they MAY print your letter. That being said, do you think they limit this power of censorship to only the Editorial page? They put all their own business (yes, the newspaper is a business) interests aside to insure their readers get all the pertinent and unbiased information they can? If this is your local newspaper, one of the predominant sources of information for people, can other media outlets (who are also businesses) less connected with the community offer something better, more encompassing, or less biased? The system works when informed voters are given a choice. The system does not work when the majority of voters must rely on biased or manipulated information. This problem existed as far back as the election of our first President. Only difference then was the fact that reported information took a long time to get to the general public and newspapers were the only source outside of the actual campaigning of the politicians. Our societal focus does not help either. We have become a “what about me” society. We will support a politician with the interests of our class over the interests of the entire group. It is, I guess, just human nature. The middle class worry about middle class issues, but not about the wealthy or poor. The lower classes worry about the issues concerning them, but not about the middle or upper classes. The upper classes want to stay the upper class at the cost of the middle and lower classes. We all need to get our individual and personal needs met first and if need be, as is usually the case, at the cost of others.

© 2012  Commonsensibly Speaking ~ Brad Osborne

6 Responses to “Political Cynicism – Part I – The Voter”
  1. edward dougherty says:

    Very Good Just one question……….How many editorial pages turned this down?

    • Brad Osborne says:

      Editorials pages in newsprint are limited in length (all my articles on the blog so far would be too long) and reserved for local writers. I have gotten some editorial responses printed in the local newspaper, but they are very much looking for a side to be taken and I started my blog to provide a broader view. Thanks for your interest and comments.

  2. Kim Distenfeld says:

    Well said Brad. Too bad this can’t be the news headline on the 6:00 evening news and on the front page of every paper! This is what every American voter needs to read and understand–regardless of political party. Kim

    • Brad Osborne says:

      Thanks for the kind words Kim. With continued hard work and a bigger readship, I hope to one day be writing a syndicated column. If that ever happens, it will in large part be because of the support of readers like you. Be sure to check the home page and archives for additional articles. thanks again!

  3. Scott Paterson says:

    Awesome!! More!! More!

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