A Bit 'o Random Musings on Politics, Religion, and Anything Else That Passes Through My Crazy Head

Monday, October 22, 2012

A Politico's Prayer

I thank thee that thou hast made my Presidential candidate the honest one.
The One who will create jobs and do all things righteous.
I thank thee that thou hast made me pure in heart to see
The flaws of my opponent, while ignoring any and all flaws of my candidate.

Give me strength to ignore factual inaccuracies on my own side,
Disregarding the cognitive dissonance that exists within my contradictory positions,
Erecting straw man arguments which the other side is not making,
And strenuously pointing out each truth stretching by the other side.

Grant me eyes to see only with my prejudices,
Ears to hear only sycophantic cable news hosts,
Lips to speak only with those who agree with me,
And fingers to type accusatory Facebook comments.

Help me to ignore nuance, complexity, and compromise
Thus reducing this contest to Good vs. Evil
And thereby demonizing the opposite side
For they hate America and do not share my values.

Bless me to see the ridiculousness of the nonsense issues
Which the other side lobs my way,
All the while nit-picking unimportant missteps
Made by the candidate I disagree with.

Bestow upon me the gift of blaming outside forces for my candidate's failings:
The Media, The Moderators, The Altitude, Etc.
While holding my opponent responsible for issues over which
He has no control - macro-economic trends, Clint Eastwood.

Help me enlist the aid of The Founders, History, and Economics,
Selectively choosing only statements and statistics which support me.
Lead me into vast oversimplifications and generalizations, and
Deliver me from any ideas that support the opposite side of the argument.

And, finally, grant me the ability to dig in to my entrenched positions,
Validating all my preconceived notions of the candidates,
Never exercising critical thinking or principles of logic,
But instead relying on predetermined opinions about who I support.


Now, obviously, this post is hyperbole (and sorry if it comes across a bit cynical and/or blasphemous).  But I find myself exhibiting some signs that I fall prey to the failings listed.  For instance, one of the things that really irked me about the second debate was Governor Romney's "selection" of facts as they related to energy.  Romney cited a statistic that oil drilling was down on Federal lands 14%.  This statistic is technically true from 2010 to 2011, but ignores the context, and the fact that oil drilling on Federal lands is actually up over President Obama's term of office.  Most of the decrease is due to the moratorium on drilling Obama ordered after the disastrous BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, and production is now increasing again after that moratorium was lifted.  Thus, the context of this one year statistic is important and contradicts Romney's assertion that Obama is limiting oil drilling and thus responsible for rising gas prices.

What bothered me is that Romney choose one fact while ignoring the context of that fact.  In essence, he lied.  But as I've let this stew since the debate last week, I've realized this: President Obama did the same thing.  When responding to Romney's attack on Libya, Obama stated a true fact - that he had referred to the attack as an "act of terror" in his Rose Garden Press Conference on the day after it happened.  Semantically, this was true.  However, this fact ignored the broader point that Romney was making, which is that Obama and his surrogates were blaming a spontaneous demonstration for the attack, long after other evidence pointed to a planned attack

So, Obama selected one fact which supported him and ignored the context of that fact.  He misled in the same way Romney did.  Yet that has not bothered me really since the debate.  I think this is because I am voting for Obama and not for Romney.  I decided who to support first, then went looking for reasons for my support - not the other way around.  The problem is, I don't really know how to combat this.  I mean, I'm pretty sure that any evaluation you or I make of the candidates at this point is going to include our already-formed and long-held opinions.  But the best we can do is be self-aware.  Recognize that you have a bias, and try to catch yourself giving too much credit to your side or blame to your opponent.

With that in mind, I would like to challenge each of you to do something as you watch the third and final debate tonight:
1) If you are a Romney supporter, find an issue where you think Romney is wrong and Obama is right.
2) If you are an Obama supporter, find an issue where you think Obama is wrong and Romney is right.
3) No matter whose side you are on, try to examine the arguments rationally, and appreciate that both men are trying to serve their country as best they can.  Both candidates are good, imperfect people.  Obama is not a socialist.  Romney doesn't hate poor people.  Please, please, please play nice.  At least, that is this political junkie's prayer.

If not, enjoy the laughs at the Al Smith dinner this year:


  1. This is great, thank you. I am periodically relieved when I notice myself disagreeing with or noting holes in the arguments of a candidate or group I prefer because it helps me know I have hope of being a conscientious, open-minded, principles- and issues-focused voter. If only I had it more often.

  2. One big problem- "try to examine the arguments rationally." Not really possible since no one really discusses their stance on or plan for the issues. They just say what they hope will cause us to think badly of the other so we'll vote out of fear (Oh no! He's going to put the economy back in the position it was in under Bush... or.... Oh no! He's going to continue to make us struggle with high unemployment if he stays in.) Call me a cynic....

    In other news, you'd love our ward... where an older Sister has come dangerously close to endorsing Romney from the pulpit twice now. Obviously I'm sarcastic, but I expect it to get much more entertaining in the weeks to come.

  3. Awesome post! I find it refreshing to be able to see both sides of politics.