As we move to Act III of what I call the Theater of the Absurd and you call the November election, I dread the escalation of the distracting, banal and tiresome attack ads that are the hallmark of this presidential election. I’m tired of talking heads, and I’m tired of “real” citizens featured in TV spots who are actors talking about their “fears” when it comes to one candidate or the other. I’m tired of party surrogates implying or stating outright what can only be described as irrelevant, stupid things. And I’m particularly tired of deflection from the real issues this country cares about right now.
I don’t care about how much Michelle Obama spends on an evening dress. I don’t care how much Anne Romney paid for her blouse. Gov. Romney’s tax returns would only depress me, and I’m guessing President Obama’s tax returns are equally off-putting to the average working stiff. While Mrs. Romney’s love of horses as MS therapy is admirable, it isn’t relevant to my life. Mrs. Obama’s notion of what a healthy diet might be is again interesting, but I’ll make my own choices. I don’t want to know who smoked what or acted like an idiot in high school, and I don’t care about anyone’s college report cards. I don’t think the blathering of a single Senate candidate impugns Mr. Romney’s candidacy any more than one Democrat Senator’s mental missteps impugns President Obama’s attempt at reelection.
None of these things has anything to do with my quality of life now or in the future, or the prospects of my family and friends. None of these things says anything about solutions to this country’s problems, and as said once before in similar circumstances: ”It’s the economy, stupid.”
I simply want to know how either or both of these gentlemen intend to get this country back on sound economic footing. The rest of this rhetoric is just distraction. Now, I’m going to turn into one of those people I generally ignore – the Monday morning quarterbacks – and I’ll give you my two cents on how the GOP and the Democrats should conduct the campaign through November 6. Let’s start with former Gov. Mitt Romney.
First, take Rep. Paul Ryan off script. The biggest mistake the Romney-Ryan campaign can make is to force Mr. Ryan to stick to some “safe” script crafted by backroom campaign gurus who fear Ryan may not come off as 100% in agreement with Romney on all issues all the time. Mr. Ryan is an unknown quantity to most Americans, save for his connection to the House budget and how that affiliation is portrayed in the press. When it comes to rural America and the issues about which farmers, ranchers and agribusiness care, Ryan knows more than the other three principals combined. He’s also arguably the most intelligent of the four, and like Vice President Biden, has more political experience than his boss.
Second, I want more insight into the kind of person Mitt Romney is. Today I watch a guy who seems a little more relaxed than he used to, but still comes off kind of stiff in crowds. I do not want to hear any more about Bain Capital or the Utah Olympics and how running a company or coordinating the games makes you qualified to be president. Yes, business experience is a very good thing as it gives insights and experience on budgeting, etc., but I want to hear about decision-making processes and the key folks on whom he relies. I need to know the man at the top has compassion, smarts and cares. Maybe I need to hear more from the family and friends of the man who would be president.
As for President Obama, I want to hear about plans for an economic recovery, and how that recovery will impact rural America. I don’t want to hear about implementation of programs that have been on USDA’s books for 30 years. I want to hear about jobs creation. I want to see actions that backup the words. I want to hear about what Mr. Obama will do, not what Mr. Romney didn’t or won’t do.
The President should run on his previous four years’ achievement, the progress made and the challenges yet to be overcome. His campaign should lose the cynical desire to play to what they’ve internally defined as “hot button” issues for particular segments of the electorate. I don’t want to hear about EPA’s screw ups on farm dust, or the Department of Labor’s mess-up on child labor; that was then, this is now.
Specific plans to move this nation’s stuttering, sputtering economic recovery into a steady drumbeat of forward progress affects all segments equally, and this year rural America, reeling from drought, natural disaster, herd/flock liquidation, food versus fuel wars and no clear direction on farm programs, needs to see specific plans laid out in a bare bones fashion. Remember, gentlemen, we feed this country.
Both candidates must remember: This election must be about solving problems, not pointing fingers. The one who comes up with solutions, not accusations, gets my vote.