As the U.S. presidential campaigns push on toward the upcoming republican and democratic conventions, and then on to Nov. 6, I am increasingly thankful we only have to go through this once every four years.
Recently I've learned that although the race for the White House is a circus with the president and Mitt Romney in the center of the democratic and republic rings, it's really a three-ring circus.
Yes, for those of you firmly resolved not to vote because you don't like either of the choices, you can go to the polls. There is a "none of the above" box, after all.
Former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson, a libertarian, apparently is a viable alternative to what one editorial writer referred to "the two global wingnuts." His campaign people say he is on the ballots in enough states that he could mathematically get enough electoral votes to win.
Meanwhile, I'm watching the whole process, which is interesting, but also grows old quickly.
Most bizarre of all of in the campaign sludge-fest are the recent comments of Missouri Rep. Todd Aiken. Trying to get a message across about his opposition to even rape and incest exceptions to abortions, he launched into a twisted sex education lesson. He said there are different degrees of rape, and that ultimately, legitimate rapes don't cause pregnancy. He was basically saying that a woman's body knows if she's truly saying "NO" or not, and if she's truly being raped, her body will fight off the offending invaders and she won't get pregnant. I agree with one late night talk show host who stated that Aiken was leading the republican charge to march the country back to the 16th century.
I hate the fact that the U.S. of A. is supposed to be a "free" country with "free" elections and they've become anything but. Our choices are determined by the almighty dollar. Along the campaign trail, candidates drop out not because their ideas are bad, but because they run out of money.
It would be interesting if the process didn't cost so much, and more people could be considered serious contenders.
These are the times when the idea of a one-term presidency of six years seems like a pretty good idea to me. Subtract the time spent campaigning and by the time a president serves two terms, it's about six years rather than eight anyway.
For me what makes the election process seem to drag on and on is all of the negative campaigning and the spin that only emphasizes how bad the other guy is or will be. It's a bit scary that no one wants to detail what they actually plan to do.
Some examples: Romney put people out of work and was king of outsourcing as a business leader. Massachusetts was in shambles when he was governor, etc., etc. And if I have to endure that commercial about Romney keeping some of his millions in offshore accounts while he croons "America the Beautiful," too many more times, I think I will run screaming into the night.
From the other side, there are several commercials to choose from which in one way or another blame just about everything bad on the president. The president made a lot of promises and things only got worse. Unemployment and gas prices have gone up and up and that's Obama's fault, too.
I recall one commercial that states gas prices were on the low end of the $2 range before Obama took office. Shame on him for taking credit for the SEALS taking out Osama bin Laden. Shame on him for calling Romney names, but of course he can only resort to attack ads because he's failed so miserably, he has nothing good to talk about.
In Romney's camp, the Affordable Care Act (ACA), which even the president has referred to as Obamacare, is a disaster. Oddly enough, it's based on a similar plan republicans introduced, and much of it is similar to the plan Romney made mandatory in Massachusetts when he was governor.
What I've heard from Romney's choice for running mate, Paul Ryan, is that Obama is scuttling Medicare to pay for Obamacare. Obama's camp says that money is coming out of the pockets of providers and insurance companies, not senior citizens. Democrats say senior citizens should vote for Obama because the republicans' budget plan will destroy Medicare and Social Security.
Republicans say democrats want to let people on public assistance go back to getting money from the government without doing any work for it. Democrats say that's wrong.
I've also grown tired of all the racist crap - and yes, it's racist crap - about the president. He's a Muslim, he's not native born, etc. I've heard ads for some new documentary where people did a lot of research in the Middle East and claim to "reveal" Obama's "true" agenda for America. I assume that agenda for America is to destroy it.
Sadly, I've also heard a lot of people in this area, far too many (one is too many) not simply say they loathe the president, but refer to him with vulgarities and nasty racist terms. A few are along the same lines as the racist football coach made in "Remember the Titans." After the de-segregated team led by the coach played by Denzel Washington won the game, he walked off the field and tossed the offending coach a banana. 'Nuff said.
Then there's those who insist on calling the president Obama bin Laden, a terrorist, and even worse, comparing him to Hitler. Hitler? Really?
Yes, we have freedom of speech in America, but regardless of one's political views, there's no place for that.
The biggest rational complaint about the ACA is the part about everyone being mandated to have health care and that they'll pay a penalty when they pay their taxes if they don't.
One good thing I know about - no I didn't read the whole bloomin' bill - is that the folks in Salineville are about to get their community health clinic back, and the funding from that is coming from the ACA.
On the lighter side, one of my favorite parts of presidential campaigning is watching for the various bumper stickers. There are the disappointing ones that are only recycled from previous campaigns: "Don't blame me, I voted for McCain and the hot chick." "Impeach Obama," "1-20-13: the end of an error" and "Somewhere in Kenya, a village is missing its idiot."
Then there are the obvious ones: "NOBAMA" "Obama bin Lyin" and a couple of new ones: "Silly Republicans, Medicare IS socialized medicine" "Keep your Mitts off my country" "Welfare was not intended to be a career opportunity" and one with a photo of the president that says "Does this a** make my truck look big?"
I'm sure there are a lot of websites featuring bumper stickers and other stuff, but a favorite of mine for the past few years is cafepress.com. They give people options for equal-opportunity insults: "Republicans: We work hard so you won't have to," or, "I work hard and pay taxes so Mitt and his friends don't have to," and "Spay and Neuter Liberals."
My personal favorites, being a pet parent to both dogs and cats: "Cats for Obama: 28 more years" and "I ride inside. Dogs against Romney."
Another which is imaginative, although it would be hard to read unless the car is parked or you're behind it at a stop light or waiting on a train: "Obama is not a foreign-born, brown-skinned, anti-war socialist who gives away health care. You're thinking of Jesus."
(Nancy Tullis is a reporter for The Review. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org)