Tuesday, September 25, 2018

THE PRAIRIE EDITOR: Common Sense, Not Conventional Wisdom

We have now entered a period of political illusion and delusion that
always comes just before a major election cycle.

In recent cycles, the melodrama and meanness of spirit seems to have
increased --- this largely because of the sheer quantity of unverifiable
information, and the ease of publishing it on the internet and other
newer modes of distribution. But we need to remember that current
generations of Americans have enjoyed relatively tranquil times in       
recent years. Before that, just after the founding of our republic, during
the U.S. civil war, at the tumultuous turn of the 19th century into the
20th, at the outset of the Depression, and during the Viet Nam war,
equal or even greater political campaign hysteria occurred.

It might not be an entirely new phenomenon, but of course, it is still
disorienting to voters who must make important decisions on an
approaching election day.

What can be usefully said about the remaining few weeks before that
election day as the airwaves, pages of print, billboards, lawn signs,
and public conversations, are filled with what is mostly propaganda and
other public manipulations of dubious reality?

My answer to that question is applicable to voters (and my readers)
who are Democrats, Republicans, independents or just plain undecided.
Ignore, if you can, conventional wisdom, public opinion polls (more
misleading than ever), political ads on TV (and those which come in the
mail). Insofar as you do perceive these, understand that they are
designed and formulated to manipulate your political emotions, and not
necessarily your own real interests and ideals.

What then should you do instead?

My suggestion is to employ one of your greatest assets --- your common
sense. Of course, everyone’s common sense is different, so there will
be different voter responses. What is behind your common sense is
your lifetime of experiences, your values, your own interests, and your
natural skepticism.

We are in an historical period of some political disruption and change.
It is also currently a period of general economic boom with a rising
stock market (and thus increased value of most person’s net worth
in their retirement funds), very low unemployment (notably including
previously high unemployment groups), and lower taxes. It is also a
period of a presidential trade policy strategy that includes at least
temporary tariffs and confrontations with our allies and trading
partners, and at least short-term obstacles for some domestic farmers
and manufacturers. As the usually inevitable result of electing a
president from the conservative party, judicial appointments at the
federal level are mostly conservative. Similarly, the presidential
candidate who won promised a rollback of regulations and smaller
government, and this is occurring. You might agree or disagree with
all or some of that.

Elections have consequences, we need to be reminded. Voting for a
candidate at any level of government, and especially for statewide
office (such as governor) and for U.S. house and senate in a national
mid-term election such as this one will have consequences. If you
agree with, and find positive current state and national policies, your
vote should reflect it. If you oppose or disagree with current state or
national policies, your vote should reflect that.

I also want to repeat something I have written about often over the
years --- that in reality, every eligible voter does vote! Those who turn
out and cast their ballot, of course, vote. But so do those who stay at
home and don’t cast a ballot. These latter eligible voters, in reality,
are casting their vote in advance for the winner, whomever it might be,
whether or not they agree with that winner. 

That’s reality, and also common sense.

Copyright (c) 2018 by Barry Casselman. All rights reserved.

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