After a summer spent quietly observing political developments, and in the wake of the RNC, I took pen to paper to jot down my reflections on the upcoming election. In the process, I kept concluding that political media coverage has lost its edge. Instead of addressing the policy nitty-gritty that this election is about, we get a media that waxes poetic about Paul Ryan’s marathon time and the ambiguous symbolism of Clint Eastwood talking to an empty chair. With the stage now set for the DNC agenda and then subsequent presidential debates, it would be nice for more comprehensive analysis of this election. Alas, I decided that November 2012 needs spark notes.
Given the fragile state of our economy and our future, this election will represent a paradigm shift for this country, unlike any we have seen before. Obviously, this paradigm shift depends entirely on the winner. For Democrats and Republicans, this election will be one of stark contrasts. From the center to the right, notice the old guard of the Republican Party, clinging to notions of de-regulation, lower taxes for the rich, guns, and Jesus. And from the center to the left, notice the screaming, disjointed voices advocating for renewable energy, affordable education, taxing the rich, and saving Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security. That’s November 2012, in a nutshell.
It will be an election that pits an older, largely Caucasian demographic against a younger, increasingly multi-ethnic voting bloc. It won’t include traditional culture war topics like past elections (minus Democrats making marriage equality a national platform), but will be every bit a culture war as we can possibly get. From the center to the right, there will be many showing up to the polls because the buck stops with Obama. In other words, an economy which was not fixed overnight will inexplicably drive their vote to the party that a) caused the mess in the first place and b) helped perpetuate said mess through Congressional inaction that should be impeachable.
Then from the center to the left we will find countless women voting for the party that at the very least promises not to return them to Ozzie and Harriet status. They will be reinforced by the voters of color lucky enough not to be turned away at the polls in some states where recent policies wrought with subliminal messages of Jim Crow are now on the books. Last but not least, the college students, who instead of needing to show up and vote in the face of a country sending troops abroad (see 2004 and 2008) now need to show up thanks to student loans and the economy. And as always, there’s a big difference between needing to show up and actually showing up when it comes to America’s youth.
To recap, this election is mostly about liberals vs. conservatives.
It’s so simple, it’s almost stupid. Of course, it will also be shaped by moderates, i.e. those who believe their conscience is better served by saying they’re “independent.” Both bases will vote, and moderates will then fill the gap. And the issues dividing us all break down as follows: a government that favors taxing the rich vs. one that doesn’t; a government that respects the privacy of a woman’s choices about her body vs. one that believes such privacy belongs to the male psyche; a government that considers broaching the subject of gun control vs. one that vomits at the thought of gun control; and a government that says their Kung Fu is better for lowering the debt, creating jobs, and saving entitlement programs vs. one that says their Kung Fu is better at the same exact things.
Under normal circumstances, maybe such a divide wouldn’t be so bad. But these aren’t exactly normal circumstances, which brings me back to the lead that I have now buried in this paragraph: this election is about a paradigm shift. Under Obama, policies have become increasingly liberal. Under the proposed Romney-Ryan plan, the possibility of returning to a country that existed before reforms that took place in the 1960s is very real. Both election outcomes hold a very different future for people of color, the elderly, college students, Supreme Court nominees, and what is currently the middle class. Of course, they also hold a different outcome for the wealthy, except somehow the wealthy will continue to be wealthy regardless of the winner.
Accordingly, my only pleas about the upcoming election are that the media bring its election coverage to something bearing a resemblance to news, and that people become informed. If the issues mentioned above are any indication, this country would be better served with a populace that spends time debating politics instead of debating the cancellation of Jersey Shore (which, for the record, I applaud). But since a higher standard of excellence for news is likely to elude us this election season, perhaps a victory one way or the other will change the way mainstream media handles election coverage in the future. Then again, with Clint Eastwood setting the bar so high by talking to an empty chair, I highly doubt future elections won’t include increased emphasis on entertainment over reality.