Momma always said, “Don’t wish your life away” whenever I, as a young boy, would declare I couldn’t wait until Christmas or my birthday. But even momma would agree with me that I can’t wait until Nov. 9 when this election is over.
I’ve been covering elections since 1964 and this is the most disgusting campaign, from top to bottom, in my lifetime. Even those of us political junkies who love public policy discussions are turned off by the lack of respect candidates pay each other but, more importantly, to voters.
Last Sunday’s second presidential debate and Tuesday night’s gubernatorial debate were prime examples of how low and how deplorable elections have become. There is little attempt to tell us why we should vote for a candidate. Whenever asked their position on any issue the immediate response is to pivot and tell us how evil or wrong their opponent is, responses usually unrelated to the question or issue being raised. If any effort is made to speak to an issue we get are carefully rehearsed sound bytes and talking points like “I’m going to fix education,” or “When I’m elected we’re going to create more higher paying jobs,” or “I’m going to rebuild the middle class.” There is little attempt to provide any specificity as to how they intend to accomplish these positions.
Our NC SPIN panelists appeared this week at a forum designed to provide civil discourse on the candidates and issues. At the beginning of the discussion I asked the audience how many had already made up their minds as to whom they would cast their ballots; more than 95 percent raised their hands. In a similar presentation prior to the 2014 elections there were more than 200 in attendance but this week the crowd size was slightly more than 100. To be sure many were still dealing with the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew but one attendee reflected that the crowd was much smaller because people are fed up, turned off and want nothing to do with the whole election process.
It is understandable that so many are weary of the finger pointing, name calling and ugly tactics. Some would say this campaign is merely a reflection of our current culture, the new reality in politics, but most of us would like to think we are better than our candidates and deserve more civil and respectful treatment from them.
This is an alarming condition. In North Carolina, as with the nation, we are at a turning point and these elections will not only elect our leaders for the next two or four years, but also will have a significant influence over future directions we take. This is a very important election.
Typically 65 percent of North Carolina’s registered voters cast ballots in a presidential year election. There is a growing fear that large numbers will show their displeasure by just staying home Nov. 8. Their protests might be understandable but are also dangerous because those who don’t vote are placing the outcomes in the hands of those who do vote.
We can’t wait until Nov. 9 when this election is over, but we should also remember how important it is to exercise our hard-fought right and civic responsibility. Please vote.
Tom Campbell is the executive producer and moderator of NC Spin.