A Letter to Dad Concerning the 2008 Election

Dad,

I really agree with your rant and rave, all the major points that you addressed, especially about the problems of the last 100 years and the decline in values in our country, and the fact that God ultimately establishes the rulers of the nations.  I think you really hit the nail square on the head.

One thing that I have noticed a lot abroad as I’ve been following this election is the fact that as you said at the beginning, we really are forced to “choose the lesser of two evils.”  It’s hard to watch from afar as our country tears itself apart over the election through divisive tactics and fear.  Both parties are to blame, both parties are using negative politics to try to tear down the other guy, and neither party is doing anything to unite the people in any way.  Therefore, regardless of who is elected, the new President will have some serious work ahead of him in order to unite the country again.

I have noticed in the media, particularly the liberal media that they have a greater tendency to target McCain and spare Obama, although he does take some shots too.  But on the other hand, there are plenty of people on the McCain side who target Obama and spare McCain.  It really is hard to watch, even from overseas as I often feel a need to smack my forehead in the absurdity of it all.  It makes me very thankful that I’m not in America to witness it more closely, and have to see all the horrible, targeted, negative ads on TV from both campaigns.

Both campaigns have made outrageous claims about the other candidate, and have used words taken out of context in order to “slow” the other’s campaign.  From Obama taking McCain’s “100 years war” words out of context to McCain taking Obama’s “sex education for kids” words out of context.  From the Obama campaign warning about McCain’s old age and impending death, and Sarah Palin’s likelihood to be President with almost no experience, to the McCain campaign warning about Obama’s terrorist ties, socialist values, and Reverend problems.  This entire election year is a mess.  It’s an ugly, disgraceful mess of fear-mongering and negative politics (from both sides) and it makes me less proud to be an American.  If this is the way our leaders act, what does that say about our youth?   Where will they learn values from?  I am afraid that people will use the example set by these two campaigns as an excuse for their own blame-games and responsibility-shifting.

I suppose one good thing that has come from this whole election year is that people are once again engaged in politics, in the state of our country, and in the things that happen in Washington.  People are no longer content to let things be as those in power make unwise or questionable decisions.  This all has also opened people up more discussion of politics with friends and neighbors, and has opened people up to discuss the state of our country.  These are all good things, however, it’s sad that much of the discussion is fearful, anger, and emotional.  It’s sad to see the state of our nation from abroad.  It seems (from what I’ve heard) that many people have just come to accept this kind of politics as normal.  One note I read (from Megan in France) said, “How is the tension in the air with the upcoming election?”

Are these kind of politics normal?  Whatever happened to fighting fair, addressing the issues, trying to be “the best man/team for the job” rather than “trying to drag the other guy into the mud”?  When did campaigning become less about choosing a good man, the best man for the job, a man to be proud of, and more about choosing “between the lesser of two evils”?  Is all campaigning like this?  Are all countries like this?  Regardless, it’s ugly.  It makes me thankful that I can only watch what I choose to find on the Internet and watch, and then make my judgement myself, rather than being submitted to the constant barrage of campaign ads on TV.

But that brings up another question.  When did people stop considering the candidates for themselves to make their own best judgement?  When did people start choosing “the guy who scares me less”?  It makes me sad to see that people are basing their judgements of the candidates on their fear of the other guy, on their fear of what the other guy could potentially do in office.  In High School I learned about a system of “checks and balances” within the government.  Wasn’t that the original point of the Constitution?  To NOT allow one man so much power as to do whatever he wanted.

But this isn’t all about the “Obama Socialist” mindset.  I also wonder about the “McCain Old-Timer” mindset.  Even if he is old, Presidents have died in office before, and the Vice President has taken over, in some cases to the betterment of the country (Teddy Roosevelt).  Therefore, shouldn’t it be reasoned that the Presidential nominees will both choose suitable VP canditates who are ready and able to take office should something happen to them?

It seems that politics these days are less about policy, and more about personality.  People spend more time digging up dirt on candidates than actually considering their policy plans and campaign promises.  And because the media and the people eat it up, the candidates themselves stop addressing their own policy plans and start only attacking the other one’s policy plans, often misquoting what he’s said (this taken from the Obama campaign twisting McCain’s words on health care (http://www.factcheck.org/elections-2008/out_of_context_on_health_care.html)).

Ahh, well, regardless the outcome of the election, I think we can safely say that it won’t be over when the election is over.  The new President will have a long road ahead in order to repair the damage done, reunite the people, and move on with new policies.  And hopefully, whoever the new President will be, they will do something to change the style of campaigning for President the next time, or I’m afraid that things will just decline further and further, possibly even to the point of planting “dirt” on the opponent.  Things are ugly now, but if something isn’t done, they will just get uglier.  It really makes me sad to witness it all.

I am happy that I can take part in the politics and the election of the new leader of our country.  I know that everyone at home, and also EVERYONE abroad, especially the people of other nations have their own hopes for the election.  No one is happy with Bush, and we all long for a change, and a change that will once again restore the US to its long cherished “greatest nation on Earth” status.  But with the way this election is going, I have my doubts about that.  It really is seeming to become a choice between the “lesser of two evils.”  But when we choose the lesser of two evils, how can we hope that a small evil will raise our country again to the heights we all hope for?

Aaron

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