SideLines: Picking a president

I don’t normally write about politics for the simple reason I don’t know that much about it. That should become pretty evident in the next few paragraphs.

In case you haven’t heard, there’s an election Nov. 6. Barack Obama, a Democrat, is running for re-election as President of the United States against Republican challenger Mitt Romney.

As a youth, I was intrigued by elections. Today, in middle age, they totally turn me off: all the negativity, the truth twisting, the endless commercials. I read that both candidates could spend a billion dollars on their campaigns. Imagine how many meals Feed’em Soup could serve with that much money, or how many homeless people Hope Haven could help, or how that could benefit our schools.

Personally, I have to wonder what kind of sane person would seriously want to be president anyway. Haven’t they been watching CNN? Besides the problems at home with the economy and unemployment and the Cubs, there’s all that business going on in the Middle East. And who wants everything they’ve ever said or done scrutinized? I sure wouldn’t want to explain some stupid prank I pulled when I was 14, or an off-color remark I made at 21. If nothing else, haven’t the candidates seen those before-and-after pictures from when a president enters office and what he looks like when he leaves?

Realistically, it isn’t reasonable to expect one person to have all the answers to all our problems, which run deeper than we want to admit. I really think we give the president too much credit when something goes right, and too much blame when it goes wrong.

I know it’s every citizen’s duty to vote, but I can understand those who choose not to. There are a lot of very serious issues at stake, most of which are very complicated and hard to understand. Who can really tell which candidate’s plan for America will work better? Personally, I don’t trust one of the candidates, and I don’t think the other one really knows what he’s doing. Unlike one local minister who told his congregation to “vote the way God wants and not the way you want,” I think everyone has to do what makes sense to them.

I once worked with a woman who said she’d never vote for a homely person for president. I also know some men who will never vote for a woman, Republicans for Democrats, Democrats for Republicans, and so on. It doesn’t matter what their policies are. Of course, we do live a society in which more people watched “Honey Boo Boo” than either the Republican or Democratic national conventions.

As far as I’m concerned, the whole election can be settled with three questions.

Since both candidates claim they understand the middle class, I wonder if they can tell me what a gallon of milk costs these days, why I have to wait six weeks to see a doctor and why my property taxes are twice as much as my neighbor who lives in a similar house a block away. The candidate who can answer even two of the three would prove to me he truly understands what’s important in my life and would get my vote.

Until they do, it’s a tough choice.

Good luck.

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