Attracting as many, if not more, viewers than voters on Election Day, Americans spend nearly twice as much on the one day of the Superbowl than they did for the two years of the most costly election in US history. If Americans felt the same level of passion and commitment to government as they do football, the US government would not be a dysfunctional mess.
Not only would the roar of the American People deafen the whispers of special interests, fans would be so in tuned to “the stats” of the governance game that political leaders would have no room to spin the truth.
A great deal of the problem is that government is a far more complicated subject than sports while government is neither business nor pleasure, i.e. there is no immediate reason to pay attention to government on a regular basis. Politicians long ago realized it is easier to win elections if they avoided educating voters on the issues and simply played to their emotions.
As the saying goes, “answer the question you want to answer, not the question you were asked.” In other words, politicians avoid the issues, especially when they do not have the answers or when they know their views run counter to voter interests.
Currently, Republicans Presidential hopefuls are using the classic choice, i.e. emotion, versus sound policy tactic in their handling of parent-choice when it comes to vaccines. Quite frankly, the facts show that vaccines are not responsible for disorders like autism while unvaccinated children are a public health risk when it comes to most diseases.
Clearly, risky and/or unproven vaccines should not be mandatory, but standard vaccines should be mandatory in order to protect the community as well as the vaccinated from devastating diseases. In essence, the 2016 Presidential race is already being defined as an emotional choice versus a rationale choice for better policies.
On the other side of the aisle, President Obama and the Democrats have essentially given up on playing the role of the responsible party. Looking at President Obama’s federal budget, he has chosen to knowingly include spending and taxation that caters to the interests of his base while giving the majority in the middle a second choice that does not quite represent their interests. Instead of offering the American People a politically balanced budget, thus serving all of the American People, he has joined the Republicans in their efforts to divide the country.
In many respects, President Obama is likely trying to force the American People to be more vocal in voicing their interests and help him reign in the political dysfunction that is undermining government. Unfortunately, the issues are so complex and the American People so preoccupied with other aspects of their lives that the added static is only going to drive them away from increased civil engagement. In turn, they will continue to go to the polls on Election Day and make decisions based on emotion instead of based on their daily interactions with public policy matters.
As it is often easier to recognize our own shortcomings by finding them in others, Israel’s increasingly divisive election provides insights. Israel has major national security threats due to Hamas, nuclearizing Iran, the Islamic State, and a globalizing Muslim world, thus it needs to find ways to address these threats.
Instead, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and far-Right “conservatives” spent 2014 relentlessly bombing the Palestinian People and doing everything they could to aggravate tensions with the Muslim world. Injecting himself into American politics, Netanyahu has even managed to provoke backlash from Israel’s greatest ally the US when European distaste for Israel’s policies is at an all time high.
Israel’s future is literally in jeopardy unless it can learn to improve relations with its neighbors and global allies, yet Israel’s election is focusing on accusations, sandals, and racist ideologies. Given the strength of Israel’s economy and bountiful lifestyle, the Israeli People have much more to lose than to gain by aggravating the Muslim world and the West.
Absent an honest, substantive discussion on Israeli-Muslim relations, the election will be won on emotion, which means Netanyahu and his allies will likely win due to their hardliner stance on national security. They will, in turn, feel justified in their overly aggressive policies and continue to create an even greater security threat to Israel.
Just as Israel needs leadership that can rise above deeply entrenched political thinking, the United States, along with all the other nations of the world, need the same thing. Where the Israeli People are left to vote on their fear-cultivated instincts instead of what is in their best interests due to the confusing, distorted personal attacks of those running for public office, too many countries suffer from political elites willing to use whatever tactics it takes to win.
Those in power should solely be concerned about what is in the best interests of those they serve, not what is in their best interests. As hard as it can be to understand the political world, it is also necessary for voters to be just as involved in politics as they are in hobbies like football.
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