Media Editorial Boards Buy Up Presidential Votes – But At What Cost?

True to form, senior citizens turned out in full force on the first day of early voting in Texas in what has been billed as an “historic” election with the presidential battle between McCain and Obama at the top of the ballot. 

 

As I stood in line to cast my “secret” ballot (voters on both sides could easily view each other’s voting push-screen if they so desired), I couldn’t help but notice that those around me were of mostly middle to senior citizen age.

 

Statistically, senior citizens vote at a rate of about 60 percent more than young voters and about 10 percentage points higher than the national average.  They vote regularly and they take their right to vote very seriously.

 

Most voters who showed up “early” for early voting seemed to have an air of calculated deliberation about them as they prepared to enter the not so private voting non-booths.  It was obvious that at least this group had no doubt who they came to cast their vote for.  They approached their push-screen with confidence taking little time to mark their ballots.  They were obviously not the 14-percent or so remaining “undecided” voters.

 

As they left the early voting location they were each offered a sticker that read “My Vote Counted” back-dropped with a picture of an American flag.  Well, they at least left there with “hope” that their vote counted. 

 

In an earlier time when voters had to color in those little bubbles or punch out those annoying punch-card chads, at least you had a visual assurance that you had actually voted.  Something physical that could actually be counted or re-counted and tied back to a real human voter who cast the ballot. 

 

With today’s push-screen technology, the only evidence that I actually voted is the remnant of my right index finger tip “print” left on the screen—only to be scrambled by thousands of other finger tip prints—and my reassuring lapel sticker reminding me and others that I voted.

 

Frankly, questionable push-screen technology aside, I’m glad that I have already voted knowing full-well that there is still time for that oft-threatened “October surprise” that in theory could have changed my voting decisions had I waited until election day to actually cast my vote.  Not this year!

 

Haven’t we already had enough October surprises?  How about those economic surprises in September and August … and the variety of other campaign surprises during the previous 16 months before that!

 

Perhaps the biggest so-called “surprise” might be the amount of money spent to elect our country’s new president.  Campaign expense estimates for the two remaining presidential candidates on the ballot are expected to be near the easily record-breaking $1 billion mark—with one candidate spending multiple times more than the other.

 

How much media advertising can you purchase with $1 billion?  After all, that is what the bulk of the campaign budgets are dedicated to—those pesky and sometimes controversial mass-media advertisements.

 

You don’t suppose that the amount of advertising money spent with certain media groups influences how their “independent” news reporting is actually reported … do you? 

 

Certainly, senior citizens for good reason have placed their faith and trust for decades in certain news outlets to get to “the truth” when it comes to reporting facts about presidential candidates and information about other important issues … haven’t we?    

 

These news agencies seem to all have highly educated and unbiased “editorial boards” that frequently pass judgment on what is to be reported to the public and what is not to be reported.  By the way, who are the members of these so-called editorial boards and what are their personal qualifications when it comes to such acts as political endorsements?

 

And, of course, those national political pollsters all have ethics beyond reproach when reporting their findings … especially during October.  Don’t they?

 

If senior citizens can’t trust media editorial boards and national political pollsters to provide accurate and honest information … who can we trust?

 

For those who have not already voted, there is still time to do independent research about all of the candidates and propositions on this year’s ballot.  A few hours spent at the local library and on the Internet should provide enough information to help each voter make an “informed” decision. 

 

This election may in fact be recorded as “historic” by future political historians.  But not because the first African-American won or because the oldest presidential candidate won.  The election may be very historic because of the direction the new president took the country in terms of the economy, energy, ethics and eternal moral principles.

 

Once investigated the voting choices are made clear in this potentially historic election for the senior citizen and others alike.

 

© Submitted by Bob Grafe for publication on Thursday, October 23, 2008.

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