My wife, closest friends and I will be leaving for Las Vegas in a couple of days to work on behalf of President Obama. We will be there through election day and the victory celebration, returning to LA on Wednesday. I include the victory celebration because I truly expect the President to win a second term. However, there have been important lessons available to those who are willing to learn during this election process. The lessons to be learned are all about standards.
We as a nation must begin to establish standards of veracity that we demand from our candidates. While the Obama campaign has occasionally bent or stretched the truth, the Romney campaign has simply ignored it. They have gone so far as to say that they will not allow fact checkers to dictate their campaign. If the truth doesn’t matter during the campaign, how can we expect it to matter during a Romney Administration? What are we willing to accept as a nation? Do we care about the truth?
During this campaign election finance laws were turned on their head as a result of the Supreme Court ruling allowing PAC’s to spend freely without accountability and without disclosing its list of contributors. This has allowed the very wealthy to influence the Presidential campaign as well as some Congressional and Senatorial campaigns disproportionately. Are we a country that believes that the 1% should have the power to determine leadership and policy for the rest of us? Is that how we have come to define democracy? Do we care about making sure that each of our votes really count?
The polling industry has truly played a starring role during this election process. However, there have been so many polls, each using different measurements and standards that the outcome is confusing at best and wrong at worst. While polling is based on real science, the implementation of that science leaves a great deal to the practitioner. How to weight the sample, the formation and order of questions, the inclusion of cell phone users, the number of people sampled and the timing of the sampling are all left to the individual pollster. If we are going to utilize these polls as extensively in the future, there needs to be a set of standards established so that we are not comparing apples to oranges. In that way we will avoid such incredibly divergent results and they will, in fact, become a meaningful tool for the campaigns.
In a true democracy voting is encouraged and made easily accessible to all who are qualified. The attempts at voter suppression in some 32 states by the GOP is abhorrent and speaks to their attitudes and trust in democracy. Are we as a nation prepared to be clear about our standard when it comes to the right to vote? Do we believe in democracy or plutocracy? Are we willing to allow the 1% dictate to the rest of us? Men and women have fought and died for this right over our entire history. Did they die in vain?
Our first task is to make sure that President Obama is reelected. But we have an important task to achieve by 2014. We must answer these questions and establish our standard for 2014 and 2016 to be truly reflective of our democracy. If we allow the lessons being taught by this election process to be ignored, we will be wasting an important opportunity to right these many wrongs.