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Trust or Apathy?

© John A. Tyler

This is a presidential election year. There are various candidates for the Republican presidential nomination, and they have vigorously contested in various state primaries and caucuses. The amount of political advertising in 2012 seems to dwarf any previous campaign, and you had better be rich or have rich supporters to even be in the contest.

For most people of voting age, straw polls, primaries, and political caucuses are events to which they pay little attention. Does this mean that you or I, if we are in the non involved group, trust the presidential election process, or don’t care enough about it to be concerned? Are we really apathetic?

Why? One answer may be that any candidate for President is making promises that we know they cannot keep, is taking positions on particular issues that cannot be resolved in a simple, campaign promise way, and according to some campaign speeches is running for the role of God, instead of the US Presidency. TV and cable commentators seem to have a cynical point of view, that the candidate’s political positions during the primaries, which appeal to the more “radical” elements of each party, will be modified after the party conventions to appeal more to “middle of the road” voters, many of whom have no party affiliation.

In our federal republic, political decisions are spread among many spheres of influence, including town governments, state legislatures, houses of Congress, bureaucracies at many levels; in short no one person or small group of persons is in charge of most significant political changes. Which also seems to mean that many issues may not be resolved in a timely or effective manner, because there is no clear majority on many important issues.

So a presidential election campaign is very much like a public relations or advertising effort. Try to create enthusiasm, spin every political story so that your candidate looks better than an opponent, and plant gossip to make your opposition look worse. And try to make the electorate believe that you are the right agent for change or continuation.

Maybe we are both trusting and apathetic. Trusting that eventually the political process will offer choices that we consider real and worth making, apathetic that giving our attention to each campaign detail is a waste of our time.