2012-10-26 / Columnists

The Progressive

Perils To Democracy
Commentary By John Paul Culotta

Every four years as the boys of summer play championship baseball and ghosts and goblins roam our streets in October, civic minded Americans become frustrated with the dismal, disgraceful, and diabolical presidential campaigns that are disguised as democratic and reflect the values of the nation.

Every four years horrific amounts of treasure are spent to propagate half truths, distortions, prejudices, and lies. Debates have become displays of testing one’s driven manifestations of aggression, rudeness (not allowed by most of our mothers and/or kindergarten teachers) and evasions of the topic at hand.

Candidates are required to paint an unreal presentation of the values of the opposing candidate. Sometimes the comparisons made are dangerous. To claim that a candidate for commander in chief is not a native born citizen, that he is a closet socialist, a Moslem, and that desires the destruction of the nation when that candidate is the present occupant of the White House, makes us the source of ridicule around the globe. For the Democrats to suggest that only the wealthy can bear the cost of more than thirty years of mismanagement and fraud is ludicrous.

For the Republicans to imply that cuts in our social safety net and increases in military spending will suffice to cut our increasing deficit, is an insult to our common sense. Few or no details regarding taxation from the GOP belies their assertion that they sympathize with the struggling middle class and wish to assist the poor to achieve a decent standard of living without government largesse.

Both candidates and parties treat the American citizen with precious little respect for our ability to process the complexity and difficulty our nation faces since 2008. Many of us are still feeling the effects of the financial crisis.

Our presidential campaign appears to last four years and not just the year of the election. Our politics have been debased to the point that most citizens are completely disenchanted, disillusioned, and discouraged. It begins with the circus our political primaries have become.

Candidates, in order to appeal to the extreme base in their prospective parties, make statements that are not compatible with electability in the general election.

Candidates appear to be running sometimes for bishop in a fundamental evangelical church. They rail against homosexual rights, safe vaccines that they feel will encourage teenagers to become sexually active, and the teaching of evolution in schools.

These same candidates have no respect for diverse religious or ethical viewpoints. They do not wish to make abortion a safe and rare solution to a difficult situation a woman may face; their proposal is to restrict abortion period. Most of these positions do not sit well with the majority of Americans so the reset button is set for the general election.

We then have our national political conventions where the candidates are displayed and the narrative of their lives are packaged with a Madison Avenue slickness. Our candidates then become commodities similar to cars, pet food, or cosmetics. Wives are used to convince us that business billionaires and Harvard professors are just like the mechanic, school teacher, and waitress we know. There is no mention of unpleasant or inconvenient facts like a candidate is a high ranking official in a church or that another candidate smoked cannabis as a young man. No, our candidates are just your common man. Money is spent on negative advertising. Our e-mail box is full of requests for donations or propaganda. Our candidates appear on popular late night and daytime talk shows and talk of their sleep time apparel.

One candidate stated he wears little to bed and another candidates’ wife stated she didn’t prefer boxers or briefs. Candidates deny a substantial personal financial history.

Candidates claim they will represent the common citizen against the misconduct either criminal or systematic caused by the titans of Wall Street, despite no evidence of doing so in their political history. Then we come to the televised debates.

This type of four year cycle of unending political bickering fueled by substantial financial investments by special interests and the lack of civilized rational and substantive discussion of issues and frivolous distractions imperil our ability to continue as a democracy. When both presidential candidates were asked about assault weapons being banned neither candidate gave a definitive answer.

One candidate spoke of two parent families as a solution. It is unacceptable when, on national television, a political candidate accuses a sitting president of a subterfuge before an international audience in a time of international unrest and violence, without the candidate himself knowing the facts. In the past our foreign policy was bipartisan.

All reasonable people can disagree about our foreign policy, but to criticize the president when all the facts regarding an issue are still being gathered demonstrates the need for campaign restraint.

This election promised from the beginning to be a cliffhanger and our nation is divided to the point of disarray on many issues.

We need to face the issues of how money affects our political life, whether only the popular vote should be the criteria for a national election, and how election fraud and voter suppression should be handled, and how our constitution needs to be amended to achieve a secure democracy. Continuing the present system is a peril to democracy!

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