I was standing in line at the café the other day when I overheard a conversation behind me. It was the day after the third presidential debate, so needless to say everyone had their political hats on for the day. One girl began to talk about how well she thought the president did. She said things like, “He looked a lot more confident,” and she remarked at the President’s “horses and bayonets” line. No mention of specific policy points.
It wasn’t long before the Romney supporter stepped in to add her own two cents. “Actually, the military does still use bayonets,” she said. She called the President a socialist, claimed our country’s unemployment rate was at an all time high, and endorsed Romney behind the hearty slogan, “Could it be much worse?”
And then they both turned to their third friend, who had been impeccably quiet this entire time, and asked for her input. “I don’t talk about politics,” she said, “because politics creates arguments and I don’t like to argue. I think they both did a good job in the debate.”
But they continued to press her until finally she became annoyed and said, “I don’t know! I don’t know! I think I’m just not going to vote.”
Can you really blame her?
Here lies our country’s true polarization. Not so much between democrats and republicans (though that certainly is a polarization), but between those with an overwhelming political bias, and those who play to the center… because it’s safe. Both worlds are equally destructive.
On one hand, the politically bias are constantly distorting facts and minuscule events for the sake of their candidate. Does the fact that the President “looked confident” really mean anything in the scope of how well he will do in the next four years if re-elected? No. Did that stop this girl from using that as a talking point? No. Is the President really a socialist? Is the unemployment rate really at an all time high? Is it true that things couldn’t be worse then they are now? No… no… no. Yet we hear all of those statements on a daily basis.
These people will always exist. They treat a presidential election like some kind of petty sporting event that goes down every four years. Simply pick a side, talk some trash, and hope that on Election Day your man comes out on top. Then, see you in four years!
But what about the third girl? The girl who is just as entitled to vote as the two talking heads, but now won’t because of how pressured she felt to pick a side. I find this to be a very common case among college students. They don’t really pay attention to political discourse, and all of the rhetoric they here is fluff and bickering. So they never really learn anything of substance, but all the while hear both sides screaming “PICK ME! PICK ME!”. Naturally, what does this person do? Well, more often then not they just won’t vote. But if they decide to add their own two cents, they play to the center. “I’m not a democrat or a republican!” they say, “I’m an independent centrist!”
In theory this sounds great. It is quite possible to have a mix of conservative and liberal values. But more often then not, “I’m an independent centrist”, means, “Leave me alone”, rather than, “We need an efficient combination of spending cuts and tax hikes”.
Which is why this election is so agonizing from the point of view of anyone who looks at the facts. Because anyone who knows the details of each candidates’ policies looks at this race and sees a very simple, concise choice; one that’s been rather clear for the majority of this campaign. But those who get sucked into the emotion and sport of the American political process are vulnerable to having this choice obstructed.
A re-elected Barack Obama would mean more of the same stagnated, but undeniable progress. Expect investments in education, infrastructure, and clean energy. Expect the pursuit of a “Buffet Rule” tax that would inquire a more progressive tax rate, but would likely be leveled by Congress during sequester negotiations. Expect a continued pursuit of social policies like the Dream Act and Equal Pay for Women. Expect the same hesitant approach on foreign policy through use of drone strikes, and a “last resort” stance on intervention. The goal for such a plan revolves around leveling debt by 2020, which is not anything to get excited about. Above all, expect republicans in Congress to fight tooth and nail for any progress the President has a chance to make.
A President Mitt Romney – while his policies change with the wind – is just as easily predictable. Expect about $4.5 trillion in tax cuts across the board. If he follows through with his promise to eliminate loopholes and deductions to compensate for the loss in revenue, expect those to be deductions that cater to the middle class. And don’t expect that to cover the full $4.5 trillion. Expect another couple trillion dollars added to the military budget. Expect the pursuit of a Keystone Pipeline, and a cut in spending on green energy. Expect the appointment of two more Antonin Scalia’s to the Supreme Court, as well as the repeal of Roe V. Wade. Expect the repeal of Dodd-Frank, and a return to Byzantine pre-2008 deregulation. Across the sea, expect trade with China to falter as President Romney labels them a “currency manipulator”, and expect another war or two in the Middle East.
And that’s about it. What pundits have spent the last year bickering over, I literally summarized in two paragraphs. Go ahead and dismiss it as an oversimplification, or as liberal bias. I call it an election filter.
The fact is that this election is really not that complex. People just try to make it complex in order to steal your vote. So pay no attention to the benign context of a modern debate. Pay no attention to what Fox News says, or what your friends want you to say. Pay attention to your brain. With the proper information available, it is more than capable of getting the job done on its own.
Pierce Arrow Editorials Editor and Blogger
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