I bet you know what medals John Kerry has received during his military tenure. I bet you know what book George W. Bush read during the Sept. 11 attacks. Do you know what ketchup has to do with Senator John Kerry? And of course you must know the Bush family tree.
Credit the Swift boat ads, or tip your hat to CBS, but the fact remains that while the masses of America are well educated on the candidate’s personal lives, most voters and media outlets are overlooking one crucial fact. An actual election is going to take place. There are issues to be discussed and policies to be mulled over.
Does Kerry have a concrete outline planned for Iraq?
How is Bush going to remedy the country’s deficit?
Most people could not tell you the answers to these questions or much about either party’s platform, and most news outlets are only aiding in this dilemma. Turn on one of the cable news networks, and you will find “experts” opting to debate obscure events relating to each man’s past. Military service, family members, nothing is sacred.
Some Democrats even thought the Republican mud slinging was so bad they personally flew to Bush’s ranch to make him “recognize this blatant attempt at character assassination.” It is as if politicians and the media are arming citizens with negative anecdotes about each candidate so the next time politics arise in casual conversation, we are ready to belittle someone whose opinions differ from our own. Instead of the citizens keeping their government in check, they are just hoping to argue with someone on the opposite end of the political spectrum.
The evidence lies at the heart of any political conversation. Ask most Kerry supporters why they are voting for Kerry. Many say, “Because I hate Bush.” But the common citizen is not the only one who has such reasoning; some politicians are joining in as well. If you have been paying attention to the daily attacks by Senator Ted Kennedy, Bush has made the country “more vulnerable to a nuclear attack.” This suggests that, if you don’t like Bush, and you hate being nuked, Kerry seems to be your guy.
In fact, according to a recent Gallop poll, 18 percent of likely Kerry voters are voting Kerry because they would like to remove President Bush from office. However, many do not know Kerry’s take on the subjects, or if he even has one.
Kerry doesn’t aid the cause either. In the latest batch of attack ads he accuses Bush of using “un-American” tactics, and certain media outlets seem to be jumping on the bandwagon to question Bush’s military tenure. More recently, Bush’s National Guard records were used to support that argument, but you can ask Dan Rather how that went.
Similarly, according to the same Gallup poll mentioned above, 15 percent of likely Bush voters support their candidate based on his religious beliefs alone.
The Bush campaign likes their candidate to be viewed as the “compassionate old cowboy,” as he prefers to portray the image of taking the moral high road on several issues, such as stem cell research. Despite the fact that the research has great medical potential, many will look beyond Bush’s failure to support beneficial research because of his image and rhetoric.
A few anti-Kerry voters also like to attempt to belittle Senator Kerry’s medals that he won in combat. While the medals may prove the courage of the man, you can’t ask a medal for advice on the economy and you can’t wave a medal to win the war. The status of his medals have may swayed perceptions on Kerry’s character, but the achievements and personality of a president often take a back seat to policies. Bill Clinton can vouch for that.
While the gap separating political philosophies seems to be widening, the citizens of America should remember that their main responsibilities are not to their respective parties. It is to their fellow Americans, and to their belief in democracy. Do your duty and get educated, get informed and vote according to the issues. Because nobody wants a bottle of ketchup deciding the fate of their country.
Sean Blanda can be reached at email@example.com.