Commentary: The Votes Are In...
Murray, KY – The political season came to a head this week, as voters hopeful, angry and otherwise, flocked to the polls, casting their ballots in the midterm elections, with high expectations and fingers-crossed. Commentator Robert Valentine is glad it's all over, because the media frenzy surrounding the event drove him nuts. Now that he's recovered most of his sanity, hear his humorous post-election analysis.
Our long night is over. The returns are in. Now, we can go back to life without slander, insult and humiliation.
I speak, of course, of the recent mid-term election, which dominated almost every medium of communication, including the comedy channel. I haven't been so depressed about the character of the American people since the last election.
Remember? It started simply, with apparently harmless ads about what a good fellow smith has been all his life, or what a fine woman brown is these days. It was heartwarming. The candidates were simple people; people with families.
After a while, some of us began to feel that people so folksy and plain, so decent and caring ought not to go to state capitals or to Washington. After all, plenty of people with good reputations who have served their families and communities well often go to Washington and end up charged with wrongdoing, graft, bribe-taking, child molesting, criminal idiocy and jaywalking. They become millionaires, too, and we wouldn't wish that on anyone, especially these fine, simple, decent people.
We learned that they care about the same things we care about, too.
They wanted better schools for our children. Isn't that a fine thing? We all want that, don't we? Have you ever met another person who was actively campaigning for shoddy schools? Me neither, but there must be plenty of them because the current crop of crusaders ran for office to prevent the enemies of education from weakening our schools. Thank goodness.
They also wanted to protect social security for our seniors. I haven't heard any plans yet, nor even a very clear explanation of what threatens social security, but they are going to save it from . . . Well, from someone.
Best of all, they want to serve. They want to "build this country into the kind of place we all know it can be, with honesty, integrity and trust."
But if someone runs against them, you need to watch your honesty and integrity. Suddenly, some poor clod who once served as deputy county coffee cup holder, has a record featuring such dastardly political moves as:
"voting against our seniors," and
"weakening our schools," and
"threatening our democracy."
How the heck do you vote against out seniors? Was there a bill to eliminate senior citizens? Has someone proposed that people invite Dr. Kavorkian to that seventieth birthday party? Heck, most of the state legislature and half the congress are senior citizens, and half of them aren't even very senile.
Who would dare go up against a voting block that casts one out of every 3 votes? They are retired; so going to the polls is a social event that brightens an otherwise uneventful week. In Chicago, they vote twice. In two different precincts. For a politician, senior citizens are a bigger threat than the Taliban. Who voted against them, and how did he do it?
And how do you vote against education? Education sucks up nearly a quarter of every state and county budget. The federal government spends a hundred fifty billion on education. Education is the tyrannosaurus rex of every governmental body in America. Who voted against it?
And as for threatening our democracy, I'm more concerned about the fact that half of the entering freshman class at most colleges list "The Daily Show" as their principal source of political news. They know very little about government, or economics, but that's because the tyrannosaurus of government was busy teaching them . . . . Well, how to vote.
Which they didn't.
I know those evil people didn't really do those terrible things, but politicians seem to believe that they can't win by telling us what they want - only by trying to make us believe that the opposition is the anti-Christ.
There are only two things that bother me about this. First that they think I'm stupid enough to fall for this mediocre public relations rumor bash. And, second: I'm afraid I might be that stupid.
But, the election is over and my brain has a chance to recover. Hope yours does, too. Well, that's my story, and I'm sticking to it like a politician to an absurd claim about his opponent being an alien invader from the planet Claude. Film at eleven.
Robert Valentine is a professional Speaker, Storyteller, and Senior Lecturer at Murray State University in the Department of Journalism and Mass Communications.