we are in the middle of yet another “election of our lifetime,”
facing the choice of Tweedle Dee or Tweedle Dum. Or, as one Russian
(Russian!) commentator put it, “Dumb and Dumber.”
not that these guys, you-know-who and the other fellow, aren’t
smart. They are smart enough to be in the nation’s political
finals. But does it matter? Does it matter which one wins? Will our
lives be any different, one way or the other? It’s a tough call.
They are levitating in a space created by focus groups and professional campaigners.Judging
by the debates, probably not, given that neither man addressed issues
that will improve the lives of the Americans, whose household income
has fallen by eight per cent since 2000, according to economists who
track such things. Eight per cent is significant. It means our
standard of living has fallen. As a nation, we are worse off than we
were the day Bill Clinton left office.
big thinkers tell us there are many reasons. One, of course, is
“globalization,” the catch-all excuse for why there are so many
poor people in America today. Americans are competing for jobs with
young people in India or China who are willing to work long hours for
pennies. That’s their story and they are sticking with it.
is the Romneyesque opinion that half of Americans are lazy bums who
won’t take responsibility for themselves.
another theory is that we have slipped into a period of electing bums
to high office and these bums don’t have what it takes to do the
right thing. Let’s go with that one.
begin with President Obama, generally praised as one of our smartest
Presidents, a guy finely attuned to the nuances of issues great and
small. Maybe that’s his problem. He not only sees two sides to
every issue, he sees hundreds of sides. He comes across as smart but
weak. He meets the other side at the fifty yard line. They refuse to
move from their one. He says, “okay.” It’s no wonder he spends
his evenings holed up with Michelle and the girls.
there’s Romney, a guy who could go through a series of debates with
his various selves, arguing for and against everything he’s ever
stood for. Pro choice. Pro life. Universal health care. No, not that.
it odd that the word “poor” never comes up in a reasoned way that
offers some hope. There is lots of talk about middle class families,
but in a general way that floats into irrelevance. Let’s face it.
Neither of these men has a clue about how to improve the lives of the
people whose votes they are courting. They are levitating in a space
created by focus groups and professional campaigners.
what are the stakes? At the top, in truth, not very much.
biggest risk in electing Romney is not his policies. The biggest risk
is the Supreme Court. Estimates range from three to five the number
of Justices who will be retiring or otherwise leaving the court in
the next four years. Unlike the elected politicians, the Justices
actually have an impact on our lives.
Does it matter which one wins? Will our lives be any different, one way or the other? It’s a tough call.Conservatives
have long targeted abortion rights, voting rights, marriage equality,
affirmative action, and many other hard-won rights, offering various
racist and/or bigoted reasons. Make no mistake about it, the forces
of the old white America are standing by, ready to reclaim what they
feel is theirs. They don’t need millions of votes across the fifty
states to do it. They only need five votes on the Supreme Court.
even if you’re feeling disgust with your choices at the top of the
ticket, there is a reason to vote. Even if you’ve written off Obama
as another political hack, there is a reason to vote. Even if you
believe that, in the end, it doesn’t matter, there is a reason to
You’re vote today
could protect your children’s basic civil rights tomorrow.
Commentator, Larry Matthews, is a veteran broadcast journalist. He is
the recipient of The George Foster Peabody Award for Excellence
in Broadcast for his reporting on Vietnam veterans. He is
also the recipient of a Columbia/DuPont Citation, Society of
Professional Journalists, Associated Press, and other awards for
investigative reporting. He is the author of five
I Used To Be In Radio: a Memoir. Click here to
reach Mr. Matthews.