Is it really up to us?

On The Way
By Olivia Fowler
For the Courier

Are elections sold to the highest bidder? What if both candidates raise exactly the same amount of money? Who wins then?

Most people I’ve spoken to made their minds up about their choices for November’s upcoming presedential election long ago. They neither listen to nor pay attention to political ads. And who can blame them?

We’re all heartily sick of it. The essence of political campaigning in America seems unchanged from the third grade playground. “I’m rubber. You’re glue. Everything you say bounces off me and sticks to you.”

Name calling, vitriolic rhetoric and distorted information are what we’ve grown used to. One of the dangers created by this climate of hostility is the increasing level of public distrust of candidates, elected officials and government.

Our ability to process and evaluate information is compromised by the sheer size of the material saturating the airwaves.

And then we’re faced with another problem — credibility. Who is running the show? Certainly not the candidate. Apparently, or so we are led to believe, the candidate is little more than a puppet being controlled by the all-important campaign manager. And campaign managers want decisions and positions decided by the outcome of the polls.

Did you know that Abraham Lincoln wrote the Gettysburg Address by himself? Does anyone know when presidents stopped making their own speeches and began hiring speech writers?

I have no interest in electing a campaign manager to office. And that’s about where we seem to be. Do we want a leader who alters his public positions on important issues from one whistle stop to another? When the campaign and its manager become more powerful than the candidate, we are in trouble. And we are in trouble now.

If you would like to know why so many baby-boomers are taking earlier retirements, ask them. I have, and the answers vary little. “I’m not 65, but I’m going to go ahead and retire now. Who knows what those crazy people in congress are going to do? We can’t depend on them to care about us. We have to take care of ourselves.”

Sadly, they have good reason to feel as they do. Yes, we have economic problems. For what it’s worth, there’s enough blame to go around to all parties who helped create, maintain and benefit from the crisis. That is a dead horse. But now, in the aftermath, the most damaging result of this financial fiasco is a crisis of confidence.

What will it take to rebuild trust? The current members of congress haven’t a clue. They can’t pull together for our country. They can’t work together at all. They can apparently argue with each other from dawn to dark with no decisions made.

Shakespeare said it best. “Out, out brief candle. Life’s but a passing shadow that struts and frets upon the stage and then is heard no more.”

We still haven’t managed to get very far from the cave. Although I’m not sure how important civility was to Neanderthal man, it would probably not be too great a stretch to say we wouldn’t have much trouble fitting into that society. We’d walk into the cave, squat by the fire and join the clan. Our value would be determined by how well we brought in game and fought battles against other tribes.

Old Neanderthal had to have been territorial. His survival depended on it. How were leaders picked then? Probably the leader assumed that role based upon his ability to fight off enemies, successfully bring food back to the cave and care for his dependents.