Tuesday, September 19, 2006

specifics, please

With the election season upon us, there are many opportunities to hear the candidates for the various offices spout their rhetoric, trying to convince us that they are the perfect person to carry our banner into the legislature or govenor's chair or the local sheriff's office. Whatever. The point is that there is a surfeit of verbiage and little of substance behind the spewing of bullshit.

I had the opportunity to watch and listen to a debate betwen the two candidates for govenor here in Wisconsin the other evening. The subject for the debate was the economy. The Democratic incumbent was really quite masterful in his answers to the questions posed by audience members. He was able to cite real accomplishments in the economic arena during his tenure so far in office. His arguments for the tax cuts and expenditures initiated during his term were at least founded on facts that were verifiable. He had figures to back his statements. Whether you, as an elector, decide to believe him is a matter for the voting both. The point is, he sounded like he knew what he was talking about, answered the questions specifically, and was able to present his stance in a reasonable and believable manner. He was, in short, convincing.

The Republican challenger, however, was left looking like a slow horse trying to catch up in a race on a muddy track. His "answers" to the questions were a constant repetition of the same song over and over. I will cut taxes. Our taxes are too high. I'll attract business by cutting taxes. Not once did he offer any specific ideas on how exactly he expected to accomplish all those tax cuts and still have enough money in the coffers to run the state. Not once did he answer a question to the point. Every time he said something it was simply a variation on the tax cut theme. Granted, he was an animated and engaging speaker. A real showman. Convincing in his sincerity. But showmanship can only carry a candidate so far. Sooner or later he will have to come up with some specifics in order to win any support beyond the blind sheepish followers of the party line.

I fear this sort of non-answering is endemic to our electoral process. Somehow we have allowed our candidates to get away with burying their answers in a mound of obfuscation and rhetoric. We are too content in accepting ring-around-the-rosy verbal games that tell us nothing, but make us feel good during the process. And then, when the seducer has been elected, and we realize we've been seduced, with our mental pants around our ankles, we object to the seduction and wonder what went wrong.

It is encumbant upon us all, during the campaign season, to accept nothing more than the best from our candidates. We simply can't allow them to lull us to sleep with their lullabies of faulty reasoning and manipulated facts. We must demand from them clear and precise answers to our questions. If we demand, and settle for nothing less than specifics, we will be far better represented in our government offices. We deserve no less.

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