As we mature we can see things from a different perspective that we just don't possess as a younger person. We bring our past experiences as we age, or at least we hope. I have been thinking a great deal about these experiences of late. As a younger person I wasn't comfortable in my own skin and couldn't always express my thoughts very well. So remembering my past experiences even when I was young was a good way for me to put my thoughts together. Here are some of the things that I have experienced and witnessed.
I traveled a great deal outside of the U.S. when I was younger. Mostly Europe, but I spent some time in the Middle East. I also travelled to a few countries that were just lifting the veil of communism. I saw brutality out in the open, but was most surprised the reaction to the other people out in the streets when this brutality had taken place. They basically just ran away. As an older person I have a better understanding of geopolitics and it isn't all that surprising due to the fear that these people lived with on a daily basis. Ending up in jail in Egypt could very well cost you life and limb in the most literal of senses. The population didn't dare talk about overbearing police in public. There was no cable news shows to talk to.
I remember when I came home from Israel I almost got down on my knees and kissed the American ground I was standing on. Israel is a beautiful country and I have been back several times since my teenage years. I love it there, but I would never live there. The everyday very real threat of war and violence is a great deal for the mind to wrap itself around. At least for me. And by far Israel was the safest and most free country that I visited in the Middle East.
Life and career went on. It included doing fundraising for politicians. Even a presidential campaign. The 2004 George W. Bush re-election campaign (yeah you can partially blame me). I learned so much during that campaign. I never worked so hard, learned so much, or had such a feeling of accomplishment on election night. We won against many barriers. The CBS lies so close to election day, an unpopular war, and a media that hated the President.
One of the most important lessons I learned from this experience is that a presidential election is won by a relatively small number of independents in a handful of states. Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Missouri are some of the usual suspects. These voters don't normally pay a great deal of attention before September or October. They are generally not primary voters and a healthy percentage of them only vote during a presidential election years. They vote mainly on kitchen table issues and are very turned off by the extremes on both sides of the aisle. In some ways the presidential campaign comes down to a personality contest. Which person do you want showing up in your living room over the next four years. ridiculous to me, but for some reason not to them. This is not to say that negative campaigning doesn't work, obvious since both sides do it, it does work. If it didn't you would hear it anymore. But, campaign realize that there are lines that they cannot cross without running the risk of losing more voters than they would pick up. It is control tested to death. Campaigns spend a great deal of money doing the research.
The electorate also doesn't want to be lied to, at least not in terms of short-term. It seems that Americans still want to hold onto the notion that Medicare and Social Security are not in real trouble, but basically speaking they want to believe that a politician is capable of telling the truth, saying what they mean, and meaning what they say. What they don't want to hear about is FEMA camps for the masses, forged and or missing birth certificates, and that we are now living in a police state.
As the presidential election campaign season is gearing up I have become increasingly concerned of some of the rhetoric and hyperbole that is out there. The independents aren't going to buy into it and more than they bought into the far left claims of Bush's fascism and the police state he had created during his first term in office. It is more than likely these claims helped get him elected by swaying some of the independents away from the candidate that they associate with those claims. Even if that politician isn't using those terms themselves, guilt by association is alive and well in presidential politics.
Our society is open enough that we see images from around the world of real cases of a police state. We all saw the video of the young woman in Iran being murdered for showing up at a protest. The images of Tiananmen Square are now iconic. The images that we see of America are of average citizens showing up at tea parties across the country. Not one single arrest and no citizens being stopped at getting out their point of view. We have no curfews. We have free and (mostly) fair elections. We all witnessed the peaceful exchange of power in the House of Representatives in January. Not things that normally happen in a police state or FEMA camps.
By jumping on the crazy train of hyperbole and sheer exaggeration we get a one way non stop ticket to the acceptance speech of Obama's second term. Not an acceptable outcome as far as I am concerned. An outcome that will not allow this country to recover from the over-spending and choking over-regulation that is killing growth in this country. Presidents become even more ideological in their second terms, no elections left and they have the freedom to create their "legacy". history back this up.
This is not to say that we don't talk about the over reaching government. We talk about in terms that people relate to in their own lives and own life experiences. It is no accident that you never heard a high-ranking republican saying that Obama was born in Kenya. It would be political suicide with independents. They will not elect someone who they believe are part of the lunatic fringe. Campaigns spend a small fortune on messaging and testing that messaging for a reason. Language matters.