Monday, February 27, 2012

Editorial: Hold your nose and vote

In the last days before an election it's customary to produce editorials urging voters to do their civic duty, and today we have the Courier's contribution, the pertinent portion consisting of four short sentences right at the end of the column. The rest is filler.
    Given the clown-car act that has been the Republican primary campaign, I'm not surprised at this phone-it-in performance. It's got to be dispiriting for any party loyalist.
    But these results are not random. The reason the field is so poor is right there in the filler: "It is the dedicated and committed few voting in a primary who set the choices for the majority in the November elections." And in today's Republican party, those few are dedicated and committed to repealing the 20th century, as Maureen Dowd wrote yesterday, "tripping over one another trying to be the most radical, unreasonable and insane candidate they can be."
    It's a bit pathetic to realize that for most voters in this country, showing up for the primary is considered a high degree of civic participation. But I have to disagree that it's the primary voters who are really making the decisions. Those belong to the sales and marketing teams that run the political parties. As in any corporation, these people value saleability over quality or substance, and you see the results in the headlines.
    Americans are encouraged constantly to devalue our political system, and we do. For the sake of making the quick sale, Republican operatives work tirelessly to fascinate Republican voters with trivialities, falsehoods and myths, giving their frightened customers the simple, comforting answers they crave. (Democrats are less effective at this because they're less organized and their voters are less fear-driven and more reality-conscious. Sorry, it's broadly true.)
    For the moment I'm quite happy to watch the Republican party tear itself to pieces, wasting its potency on pathetic dunces. But I have to hope that eventually the truly conservative voters will tire of the crazies and corporatists, cowboy up and take the party back from them. We need adults running the show on both sides of the aisle, because the challenges we're facing over the coming decades are very serious.
    Maybe the apathy and skepticism that the editor is addressing is a good sign.

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