Sunday, October 30, 2016

OK, I voted, so STFU

Honest - each doll comes with a
"Warning: Choking Hazard" notice
If you’re like me, you think this election has already gone on wayyyyy too long.  I might be old, but my memory is still pretty good, and yeah, this is the worst I’ve ever experienced.  With about a week to go, I can see light at the end of the tunnel.  My Oregon mail-in ballot has arrived, and I’m just about finished with it – and then I am officially ignoring every damn commercial, phone call, and Internet post that has ANYTHING to do with politics until November 9th.

My wife and I have been reading the state’s voter pamphlet, plus all of the stuff we’ve received in the mail.  Since we don’t have a TV we’ve been spared most of the ads (we see a few online, but many politicians and political groups still have yet to fully embrace alternative entertainment venues like Hulu).  All the phone calls have been robo calls, and we automatically hang up on those as a rule, even during non-political times.  We believe that a “well informed citizen” is vital to the political process, so we are trying to avail ourselves to as much unadulterated information on policies, impacts, and the like.

Politics and politicians are always a bit dirty, and the higher the stakes, the more dirt there is.  Political ads (and the politicians themselves) can range from insipid to downright misleading.  We’ve always known to take anything political with a grain (or two) of salt, which is why we spend the time doing our own research on the issues and the candidates.

Sure, we tend to focus mostly on topics that affect us (health care, Social Security, the environment, and the economy).  We know that every candidate has flaws, and doesn’t always represent our views on everything.  Heck, the two of us don’t always agree, so sometimes we split a vote on a candidate or an issue.  But we do discuss it, and make what we consider to be informed choices.  It’s not perfect, but we choose what we feel is the best option, even if it looks like all options are less than optimal (OK, they all suck).

But as far as information is concerned (and I am being generous with that term), it’s not the stuff coming from the candidates that pisses me off the most.  Rather, it’s the crap that gets posted, reposted, shared and tweeted by the so-called “citizens” that are supporters of the candidates.  There is never a discussion of policies.  There is ALWAYS character assassination, outright falsehoods, and posting of crap (much of it made up and having nothing to do with the qualifications of the candidate).  So much so that it has been, in a word, revolting (I wanted to say deplorable so badly…). 

And the focus is almost ENTIRELY on one race.  The Presidency.

I’ve seen very little on any Congressional race.  You know, the same Congress that currently has a NINE PERCENT approval rating.  The same Congress, that, barring some miracle, will come back largely intact, ready to shovel the same shit on our political process for another 2-4 years, no matter who becomes President.

No wonder I can’t wait until November 9th.

Can social media play a role in elections?  Yes.  Is it doing a good job of it, in that the information presented helps voters make informed decisions?  Not a chance.

I rarely post on Facebook anyway, and have made maybe one or two politically-based posts (back in the Bernie Sanders is a viable candidate era).  I am more likely to respond to others’ posts, especially when they contain falsehoods.  On both sides, believe it or not, but yeah, I have to admit, it’s the stuff that comes from my conservative friends, and it’s mostly Clinton-based posts.

In the last month, I think Hillary has been accused of pretty much everything.  I’ve seen repeats of so many “charges” that have been debunked and shown to be nothing more than a pipe-dream from Alex “I-never-met-a-conspiracy-I-didn’t-like” Jones.  I saw the Vince Foster/Antonin Scalia murder scheme memes.  I saw more about emails than AOL.  Of course, this past Friday’s non-news made some folks downright giddy, if not apoplectic.  By Monday, when it turns out to be no more than the Guinness Book of World Records Nothingburger, they’ll move on to yet another outlandish anti-Clinton meme.  It’s been going on for 30+ years, so it’s not going to end anytime soon.

That’s another problem – when their falsehoods get called out, they never defend them (in the actual “here are the facts” sense).  No links, no facts – they just change the subject.  Sometimes they’ll toss in some name calling (libtards, idiots, etc.) just for effect.  Then they’ll post another falsie (with no proof), and I’ll respond with more of those pesky debunking facts.  No direct response, but more name calling and change the subject (or modify it so that it seems like they’re being reasonable and you’re full of it and so wrong, wrong, WRONG).  Lather, rinse, repeat.

It was so bad this weekend that two responses to my comments on political posts said the same thing, “Well, Trump never lies…”  Seriously.  Not “Trump lies less than Hillary,” or “At least Trump’s lies didn’t get anyone killed,” (oh, wait, that was BILL Clinton that this was said about), but “Trump never lies.”  Never.  Not once.  No deceit Don.  A paragon of virtue.  Seriously.  I gave them a chance to back it up or back off, perhaps take one of the lesser responses I listed above. 

Nope.  Called me a libtard, idiot, sheeple, brain-dead, and then they posted some other falsehood.  Lather, rinse, repeat.

Thomas Jefferson said a great deal about how an educated society is vital to having a functional democracy.  One quote (or many) that stands out was
"I know no safe depositary of the ultimate powers of the society but the people themselves; and if we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their control with a wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to take it from them, but to inform their discretion by education. This is the true corrective of abuses of constitutional power."

It should be obvious that Jefferson never had a Facebook or Twitter account.