Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Election Day - misc. comments

I voted today, and happily it didn't take long. I had been seeing all sorts of reports of record turnout all over the country, people waiting 10 hours to vote, people lining up at 3AM, etc. Frankly, it was quite scary thinking of the prospect that I might have to wait so long. Luckily we have a reasonably small precinct here, and when I got to the polls about 10 minutes before open, there were only about 15 people in line. Once the polls opened at 7AM, it only took me 15 minutes to get through everything and back to my car.

Last night I was watching TV, and it was nothing but a last minute flurry of ads. I'm not even sure if I saw a single ad that wasn't a campaign advertisement. Lots of the same ones over and over and over. A few of them got to me, because they seemed like they might be inaccurate. One of the ones that really bugged me was trying to urge people to vote against Michigan proposal 2, which is intended to allow research using embryonic stem cells to be funded by tax money. The ad tries to make the case something like "supporters say it won't increase your taxes, but then how come it says that tax money can be used...that is BS". The logical error on their part is astoundingly obvious. It doesn't need to raise taxes, as what it is doing is saying that if you get tax money to do your research, you can now use any portion of that funding to include human embryonic stem cells in your research. The deceit in the ad is clear as day (to me, at least), but I'm sure countless people will fall for it.

Which brings me to my next point. We currently have truth in advertising laws, but there is no such thing as a truth in campaigning law. I know such a law would be a difficult thing to define and enforce, as you can always pay anyone to do a study and conclude that you are telling the truth. Still, with the outrageous number of outright lies I've seen this election, it feels like something needs to be done. I'm just not sure what. All I know is that, when telling blatant lies is so often the most effective strategy to get elected, then democracy is largely meaningless?

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