Although I’m a political junkie, the barrage of television, online and radio ads from the Obama and Romney camps during this past election cycle left me feeling like little Abigael Evans, the Fort Collins toddler who burst into tears after listening to one more spot about “Bronco Bama” and Mitt Romney.
Abby’s frustration — tears rolling down her face — was undoubtedly shared by millions of other Americans subjected to ceaseless sniping. It seemed worse this year in Colorado. I can’t recall an election during which our home received so many political calls — from pollsters, candidates and their supporters.
A day before the election, I visited a 91-year-old friend who received yet another political phone call while I was there. “I’ve already voted, dear, but thank you,” he told the caller. His politeness made me ashamed of the many such callers that were greeted with a “click” when they interrupted me during the dinner hour.
And yet, with the election done, I have to ask myself how even I, who usually can’t get enough political coverage, became so jaded.
One factor, of course, was Colorado’s status as a swing state. The heightened level of attention meant sometimes overlapping visits by the presidential and vice presidential candidates, along with their wives and other family members. That’s a good thing, all in all.
But the “air war” — the TV, radio and Internet ads and phone calls — became overwhelming. I wish that I had kept the mountain of political mailings to return to the doorsteps of both campaigns.
So, like Abby, I became sick of the politicking, too.
Looking forward, I’m also concerned about whether we will have four more years of intense partisanship in Washington, D.C. I remember the days when President Reagan and House Speaker Thomas P. “Tip” O’Neill would argue over policy, then compromise — and share a joke and a drink or two along the way.
These days, both Republicans and Democrats seem more interested in politics than governance, at a time when we most need our leaders to truly lead and come up with solutions to problems.
I also found myself hoping that little Abby wasn’t watching “60 Minutes” the Sunday before the election, when Steve Kroft interviewed Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (more arguing and obfuscating). Does anyone truly believe that those two guys could get together on any substantive policy matter?
Our country faces a fiscal cliff, possibly plunging us once again into recession. The deficit this past year once again surpassed $1 trillion. The national debt is obscene, leaving an enormous burden for future generations. (Sorry, Abby, you now owe $51,689. Pay up, will you?)
Issues such as immigration and climate change are likely to go unresolved. Programs such as Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid are faltering, contributing to the fiscal disaster. And forget about enacting government policies to truly promote growth.
So, yes, the election is over. But unless our president and members of Congress decide to govern for awhile, rather than launch a new election cycle immediately, we’re in trouble.
It’s enough to make even a political junkie cry.
Christopher Wood can be reached at 303-440-4950 or firstname.lastname@example.org.