Ten days until the election; if you’d like that broken down into hours, minutes and seconds I can do that too.
Like every one living in a “swing state” (which by the way isn’t nearly as much fun as it sounds like), I just want it to be over. The signs, the phone calls and most of all, by a landslide, the ads. Do they really think that putting a candidate in bad lighting (which is different thing from a bad light) and talking about them in a really deep, sad voice is going to make me vote against them? The two candidates for president are already black and white–in more ways than one; let’s go ahead and show them in color–we can handle it.
I hear that there is somewhere between 3 and 5 percent of the voters still undecided, to which I say, respectfully, “What the hell people?” The two presidential campaigns are going to spend millions of dollars in this last week trying to persuade these people one way or the other. Think of how many teachers we could hire with that kind of money. During the debates CNN hooked up a few of these mythical undecided voters to knobs they could turn one way or the other depending on their feelings toward the candidate that was speaking. If you watched the debate you say these folks’ feelings for a candidate plummet when they went negative on their opponent. We don’t like negative ads. Yet when they do exit polling and ask folks why they voted against a candidate they’ll quickly quote the last negative ad they saw.
At this point it’s time to just go with your gut and go vote.
Anyone who is willing to put themselves through the excruciating process of running for office deserves we, the voters, to at least take the time to vote. The stunning part to me is that they not only go through the campaign, they actually want to do the job. Anyone who has ever been to a city council meeting knows what a service public service really is.
Like Dave Barry, I started my career covering government meetings, some of which are still going on.
My first story at the Ukiah Daily Journal was a four-inch piece of poetry buried in the classified ads (I’m old) on a sewer board meeting. I was getting paid to be there, the people around the table listening to a report on “seepage” in someone’s back yard were not.
Since then I’ve covered water districts, school districts, county commissioners, city councils and committees of every shape and size. Just last week I took my Colorado State University students to cover a meeting of their student government. As part of their training as journalists I want them to learn the important skills of looking like they’re listening when they are in all reality asleep.
It was a grueling test. The group struggled to find someone to nominate parliamentarian (“I respectfully decline” was the catch phrase of the evening) and then grilled the candidates like they would be defending America’s secrets from the Taliban.
My favorite question was, “What’s your favorite Roger’s Rule of Order?” After the election they moved on to discussion of a referendum that included a lively discussion of whether or not to remove a space from the wording. Seriously.
People actually want these elected positions, the least we can do is vote so that they have the opportunity to do so–otherwise someday someone might come looking for us to do our time.