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Tears won't win my vote

January 21, 2008|By JONATHAN R. BURRS

It is a sad day for American politics when a candidate for president can generate enough "sympathy support" to win a state primary race simply by manufacturing a few tears. This was the case in the New Hampshire 2008 Democratic primary race on Jan. 8. Hillary Clinton broke down in tears, while responding to a reporter's question, after losing the Iowa Caucuses and going into the New Hampshire primaries as a double-digit underdog behind Sen. Barack Obama.

Although some American voters are highly sophisticated, many American voters want to believe in the inherent good of their candidates and do not realize that they, the voters, are being swayed by strategies designed for politicians by "spin doctors," with the focus of gaining support for their campaigns, not proposing solutions to the many urgent issues requiring America's immediate attention in the political world today.

One strategy effectively utilized by the Bush administration was to pander to the emotions of evangelical Christians by publicly integrating President Bush's denominational beliefs into his political campaign.

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For example, President Bush began making frequent public references to God and Jesus Christ, while also supporting rhetorical calls to federally ban gay-marriage. These were prime factors resulting in President Bush's winning a second term. Subsequently, the Democrats organized studies into expressions of the God sentiment in efforts to woo evangelical voters. The Democrats also studied how their candidates could benefit from making public declarations about God and prayer. This manifested into politicians pretentiously acknowledging God, often while performing official government duties.

Obama has built his campaign around the slogan of being the candidate representing the most change. The result was a significant upset in the Iowa caucuses - followed the day after by, you guessed it, Mitt Romney, Hillary Clinton and John Edwards each spewing rhetoric all the way to New Hampshire of their being the candidate for change!

Now here comes Hillary with the crocodile tears, down double-digits in the polls in a state previously believed to be Clintontown, the day before the primaries and BAM - an unexpected comeback. The result will go down in history about how Hillary Clinton revitalized her hopes for becoming America's first woman president, a routine assertion from Club Clinton!

However, what exactly has all this done to the process of electing public officials? Now it is "business as usual," where campaign finances, political gimmicks and superficial promises influence public opinion and reaction more than a candidate's view on national and global issues. However, I believe that things such as Hillary's emotional breakdown could undermine her ability to gain the full respect of some government organizations, such as the military, if elected. I find this a particularly unsettling concept, since she has no military service and she would inherit an unpopular war, if elected. At what point will Americans elect representatives based on individual merit and ability to perform the most crucial aspects of the job, versus name recognition, financial backing and candidate charisma?

The day after the Clinton upset in New Hampshire, I was presented with questions regarding my thoughts about Clinton winning in New Hampshire and concerning whom I supported for president. The questioner proceeded to explain their support for Obama and the belief that he could move the country in the right direction.

The first question was quite simple to answer. Clinton crocodile tears in New Hampshire is a joke and will not improve her ability to be an effective president and commander-in-chief! As the winner of Bob Maginnis' "I don't vote because" contest, answering the second question led into a political discussion, mainly because I do not believe any candidate, Republican or Democrat, can move the country in the direction it needs to move at this particular point in time.

The presidential candidates all have prepared and rehearsed answers to questions regarding their views on the war in Iraq, affordable health care, Social Security, the economy, and other critical, often controversial, issues. These generic answers contain only slight differences from one candidate to the next and are virtually meaningless to me, mainly because neither party has a clear majority in congress to overcome partisan politics. Partisan politics have polarized the government at every level.

What is important to me are answers to questions the candidates have not answered, such as how they plan to end the war in Iraq.

Resolving these types of issues will better situate the government to offer viable resolutions to things like the health care crisis, the Social Security deficit (estimated at $4 trillion), the $500 billion-plus national deficit, the $10 trillion and growing national debt and most importantly, improvements to homeland security and national disaster responsiveness.

Unfortunately, it does not appear that this type of viewpoint matters in today's political arena. As such, in the event Bob Maginnis has a 2008 "Why I won't vote in the upcoming election" contest, I plan to be the first entrant.

Jonathan R. Burrs is a Hagerstown resident who writes for The Herald-Mail.

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