Evolving Peace

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Thursday, October 19, 2006

Living in a Political World

Rolling through the hills of Vermont, I see the signs popping out of the grass. An old farm house proudly says Bernie for US Senate then miles down the road another sign painted in yellow and red like the MC Donald's colors hails the words Farm Country is Tarrant Country. Like flowers blooming, signs appear everywhere. Fear and Loathing on the campaign trail, what is the meaning of all this?

Campaign season brings out all the political jargon and buzzwords to broadcast the latest message. Slogans, like Affordability Agenda and "America' Needs a New Direction" all seem to have a message of some good, but when it comes down to it why does a person vote for such a platform. The governor here has been called "nice" while his opponent has been called "too nice." Is that what it comes down to or do people really care or understand? I would love it if people one day woke up and took a passion for understanding the political dynamics of the campaigns. A democracy is successful only when we have an informed populace, but lost in everyone's day to day life the populace just does not have the time.

In California, proponents of direct democracy have tried to engage the public in the voting process by placing critical issues on the ballots. Knowing how aware voters are of candidates I wonder how well voters are informed on the individual propositions. California voters are sent a booklet explaining the proposals but I fear that like other pieces of mail it is lost in the shuffle. While it is true that people's involvement is needed, we have seen how much people actively participate in the political spectrum, so just like the voting goes for candidates the interests with money are normally the successful ones. What is needed in campaigns, is it honesty, integrity or commitment to principles? As far as I can see it is none of those. Successful campaigns rely on positive recognition of the candidate or issue.

In the Vermont governor's race, a poll stated that when people were aware of the Democratic candidate, Scudder Parker they would vote two to one in favor of him over his opponent, Governor Douglass. On occasion, you will see campaigners standing on the side of the road hailing signs of support for their candidate. This tactic known as a "honk and wave" sole purpose is to gain attention for the candidate. On the surface, it sounds ridiculous to stand on the corner with a sign but statistics state that the average voter needs to see a name of a candidate at least seven times in order to have an affect.

In a non-political situation, I saw that theory first hand. Advertised throughout town recently were signs of an upcoming blood drive and I intended to be a good citizen and donate blood. The last blood drive I missed but this time I not only saw the signs, I received a note in the mail and a phone call to remind me. It was not until that morning I saw a big sign to donate blood did I remember. The repetitive process ingrained the notion to participate and I acted.

That same process holds true in the political world. Repetitiveness is the key. We have seen the public manipulated with catchy slogans and buzzwords to support issues that are contrary to their best interests. We were told daily that Iraq was in possession of WMD(weapons of mass destruction), even though it was a lie. Political pundits continually told us Iraq and Saddam Hussein were connected to the tragedies of 9/11, a further lie. This repetitiveness brought out an overwhelming public support for an illegal preemptive war on Iraq. The net result is thousands are dead, immense hatred for the United States has grown and the national debt is spiraling out of control.

Yesterday, I met a ninety year old man how stood on a corner of Nyack, NY and protested the war for the last three years. Why, I asked him. He replied that he knew deep down inside his heart that the war was wrong and after experiencing World War II he thought that "there has to be a better way than war." Likewise, throughout the years I have written extensively to newspapers and friends expressing my belief that the war is wrong. While actions like mine and Burnett has not stopped the war yet, over sixty percent of the population think the war was a mistake and now prominent Republicans are starting to speak out against the war. Things were tough having an unpopular belief, but many of us persevered over threats of bodily harm and being branded unpatriotic.

So while the war machine keeps rolling a long I and many others try to do our part and hope for a better day. The world keeps changing and things have gotten better but we all must do our part and participate in the ways we feel comfortable. Like a vote on Election Day, taking a stand an expressing yourself is politics. You may never obtain an office or a platform but your actions everyday can make a difference.


Robb Kidd

"We live in a political world, love don't have any place. We're living in times where men commit crimes and crime don't have a face" Bob Dylan.


At October 19, 2006 10:04 AM, Blogger The Guy Who Writes This said...

I find political signs offensive. Have you ever been convinced by a sign on someone's lawn to vote for that candidate. Lawn signs are a simple reminder that there are people you agree with and the others with the opposing signs are assholes. It comes down to support. No matter who your candidate is all that plastic crap on the lawns of America will end up as land fill. What a shame that no matter how you campaign on environmental issues your political legacy is plactic garbage in a dump on November 8.

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