Alan Zendell, October 21, 2018
For the next few weeks it will be impossible to watch or listen to news or social media and not be reminded that there’s an election on November 6th. Many millions of dollars will be spent on making sure we hear everyone’s opinion about who deserves our votes.
While the various media are the recipients of all that money, I do not believe they are our enemy. I don’t watch either Sean Hannity or Rachel Maddow because I’m not interested in their one-sided spin on every issue. But even being selective in the news and opinions we expose ourselves to doesn’t shield us from the constant bombardment of psychological propaganda.
Some of it is purely political. Every media outlet uses the ploy of balanced panel debates, and most of them are simply tedious. Allowing extremists on both sides of the spectrum to shout at each other on TV isn’t balanced reporting. They’re all paid “contributors,” which means their primary job is to increase ratings so sponsors will pay more.
Because it’s more subtle, sometimes almost subliminal in nature, the commercialization of the media is more insidious than flooding the airwaves and the internet with fanatical opinions. We can ignore Hannity and Maddow because it’s easy to identify what they stand for. It’s far more difficult to avoid being influenced by the insinuating hype practiced by every news outlet.
In the months and weeks leading up to the election, which is thankfully only sixteen days away, we’ve been bombarded by predictions and graphic representations of blue waves, red waves, and purple waves. We’re presented with projections based on nonsense like the notion that off-year elections in a president’s first term always go against the administration. Specific groups of voters are being targeted, warned that if they don’t turn out in sufficient numbers all will be lost.
I’d prefer that the media treat us like adults with functioning brains. We all need to take this seriously and think. People who don’t realize this is one of the most pivotal elections in our history might as well not vote. If they’re as tuned-out as that, their votes would be at best uninformed, and at worst simply reflect the last thing they saw on social media before they voted. I don’t believe in voter suppression, but we’d be better off if those people stayed home.
If women haven’t yet figured out that our president is not their friend, if Hispanics choose to sit out the election as the media warn they might, and if African Americans and immigrants haven’t yet figured out that Trump’s main concern is what’s best for wealthy, white America, it’s on them. The best we can do is to try to convince all Americans that it’s up to them to defend our democratic principles and our commitment to human rights.
We get a chance to change directions every two years. The idea that if you’re not part of the solution you’re part of the problem applies to all of us. We heard it from the Black Panther Eldridge Cleaver in the 1960s, and fifty years later from Paul Ryan when he was running for Vice President. They were both right.
Last year, I lost count of how many people complained to me about Trump’s behavior as president. Ironically, most of them either didn’t vote at all or refused to vote for either Trump or Clinton. I hope they all realize that they were part of the problem in 2016. If you don’t hold your Senator, Representative, or Governor accountable for their actions or inactions on November 6th, you forfeit your right to bitch about the outcome. I certainly don’t want to hear it.
This year thirty-four states and the District of Columbia allow “no-excuse” early voting, three states have “all mail-in voting,” and the rest permit absentee voting by mail. If you don’t vote you really have no excuse. If your state doesn’t allow early voting or mail-in only voting, it’s up to you to make sure they do next time. Being restricted to a single day on which illness, indisposition, family problems or weather can prevent you from voting simply amounts to voting rights suppression, whether or not it’s intentional.
My state is one that allows early voting. I intend to vote on the first day I can. Will you?