I consider myself an independent voter.
In the past, I have voted for Democrats, Republicans and Independents, and I'm not ashamed to say so. That doesn't make me a yahoo-hillbilly, uneducated or a cafeteria voter. Being an independent voter makes me uniquely interested in the political system. I'm willing to do an extra amount of homework and not wave the flag for one side or the other simply because they are one side or the other.
Experience is only part of the equation for becoming the leader of the country, and correct me if I'm wrong, but none of the current presidential/veep candidates have any experience in being a president. I like to look at issues, sure, but I also want to get a "feel" of the person running for office. Are they all talk, no action? Is there a glittery facade and no foundation? Am I going to be stabbed in the back six months after the inauguration? Are special interests with money in line to end up with a pot of gold, while me with no money and no PAC find myself skewered and struggling?
These are just some of the questions that rattle around in my independent mind.
Now that both conventions are over, the white gloves have come off and both sides entered the ring swinging. Rather wildly, I must say. Wise people of some intelligence should not play victim and blame the media. (They were too slanted; they weren't tough enough.) The "media" now encompasses not just journalism (or yellow journalism), but celebrity and entertainment reporting. We have become a nation of short attention spans, choosing to watch mere seconds of TV soundbites instead of to read.
As much as we all like to think we are important, bloggers are not always "fair" or "balanced." I read blogs with interest in order to get a feel for other opinions, but cannot believe how many throw unchecked stuff out there (I refuse to call that "stuff" "news items") just to see what will stick and what won't. The Internet is a wonderful thing, but not everything on it is God's (my apologies to those who believe greatly or not at all) solid truth.
My note to both candidates, their surrogates and supporters: it's time for the garbage to stop. Put away the light sabers and get down to the meat of the matter. It is in the best interest for both candidates to do so. Why? Because there is an entire goldmine of untapped, independent, uncommitted voters like me out there. We haven't made our decision yet, but bad behavior is turning us off.
While the emotions for your candidate are understandably high, remember how you look to those who haven't made up their minds yet. You already have the votes of your constituency. Do you really think that rabid name calling, political intrigue and mud-slinging are going to earn you MY vote? Does it really earn anyone's? Is that how you want to win?
As for the constant barrage of TV advertisements, remember that this is a nation where channel surfing should be an Olympic event. Not many, myself included, can stomach commercial advertising. I don't watch much TV and therefore little advertising, but even for people who do, they are not likely to sit through commercials of any kind. In reality, how many votes do you think you have gained with one 30-second spot? Do you really think minds are changed with so little information?
The dream candidate who would garner my vote would stop the ads and put that money where their mouth is, in solving the problems of this country. Of course, I know it's just a dream, but one can hope.
Until sensibility hits both parties, I'm taking a sabbatical from the media and urge others to do the same. There are other ways to learn about your candidates, including books that each have written. Look at the current political season with a critical eye and questioning mind, and get the clutter out before making an informed decision.