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Small Wonders: Just getting what we deserve

November 02, 2012|By Patrick Caneday

It all comes down to Tuesday.

The year-long tour de force of stump speeches, primaries, promises, debates and conventions.

All the mudslinging, invectives, media circuses, accusations, half-truths, almost-facts and outright lies.

All the straight questions, crooked answers, distortions and illusive five-point plans with only a veneer of substance.

Every election cycle it happens.

And we the people fall for it hook, line and stinker. We get swept up in swift-boating, voter fraud, fact-checking and factual amnesia; statistical manipulation and misrepresentation, emotional appeals and exploitation.

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We cling to our favorite media outlet, the one that tells us what we want to hear — not necessarily good things about our candidate, but horrible things about his foe.

We allow journalists to become entertainers and entertainers to become journalists, paying them in ratings, blog hits and book sales.

We watch as ethics-minded news organizations fighting for our right to know the unbiased truth become reality TV competitions in which contestants in the guise of experts chant the same mantra: I didn't come here to make friends, but to get my quarter-hour of fame to convert into book deals, appearance fees and viral videos.

We gleefully latch on to each carefully crafted catchphrase and buzz word: Big Bird, 47%, bayonets, fair share, who built what, the joys of firing people and corporations as people. It's all binders full of malarkey.

We cling to the estimates, studies, research and polls that back what we want to believe, then spit that in the face of any who would oppose such obvious “truth,” all the while ignoring the facts and figures spit back in our face to support the other “truth.”

We argue over wedge issues that are rarely relevant outside of an election year (and never solved), quickly putting them on the back burner come Wednesday.

Our virtual water cooler — Facebook — becomes venom central; a place to voice your opinions and have them slapped down, trampled underfoot; It's target practice for senseless, mean-spirited and unsolvable arguments. Espouse an opinion on one subject and you're categorized, locked in a box and labeled for shipment to an island with the rest of the loonies who believe that.

It's ironic. On Facebook no one sees the faces behind the self-righteous attacks.

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