With just seven weeks until Election Day, polls show that there are still a significant number of voters in the "undecided" column in the presidential race.
We found it difficult to comprehend that so many of our fellow citizens around the country still don't know which candidate to support. But then we remembered: Oh, that's right, our national news media is a failure.
In election campaign after election campaign, it's not issues that are discussed in the big media outlets, it's quirks and personalities and absurdities: Who would you rather have a beer with? Who is the bigger celebrity? Were those tears real, or planned? Was that comment sexist? Was that comment racist? Hey, let's discuss this new ad for a few days! Let's replay the words from a pastor over and over for a few weeks. Let's talk about lipstick. And on, and on, and on.
Does anyone else notice that the issues are rarely mentioned these days? You know, topics such as the unemployment rate. Our huge and growing national debt. How to resolve the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. What is the best way to secure a more reliable energy supply for our future? How can we strengthen our international alliances? How can we best protect our people against terrorist attacks?
We don't hear much about these things on national television newscasts.
The campaign that would best serve the citizens of the United States of America would ask the candidates to spell out their plans to tackle these various issues. Those plans and proposals would be examined and debated on their merits, and people could choose who to vote for based on how that candidate's plan would affect their lives, the future of the nation, and the success and well-being of their children.
Unfortunately, that's not what we get. We get ads that distort and divide. We get candidates that slash and cut. Issues are not just ignored, they appear to be forgotten.
How bad has it gotten in 2008? Take a look at this quote from Rick Davis, Sen. John McCain's national campaign manager: "This election is not about issues."
What does Davis know that we don't? Maybe we're naive, but we thought issues mattered. While it might be fun to elect someone with a sassy personality to the White House, isn't it more important to choose someone who would govern most effectively?
That's what we thought, but once again the national campaign coverage seems to be failing us, and it's a disgrace. With our nation and our planet facing so many dire problems, our national news media takes two days to have an in-depth discussion of what the phrase "putting lipstick on a pig" really means. And that's just one example of what the campaign coverage has been reduced to.
So we figured we'd suggest a relatively easy test for those who remain undecided. It's simple, really. Ask yourself the basic question made famous by President Ronald Reagan: Are you better off today than you were four years ago?
Do you believe the nation is better off?
Do you think our nation is headed in a positive direction?
If you can answer "yes" to these questions, then it makes perfect sense to stick with the political party that has been in the White House for the past eight years and the party that has controlled both houses of Congress for six of the last eight years.
If not, if things aren't going that well for you and you're worried about the future of our country and your childrens' future, then it makes sense to vote to change the political party running the show.
That's common sense.