The national political conventions are behind us.
The presidential candidates are selected.
Running mates are smiling brightly.
Political commentators are polishing analyses.
It’s been easy to ignore much of the summertime campaigning because — traditionally — the real stuff doesn’t get going until after Labor Day. Now, with Monday’s holiday behind us, the race, as they say, is “on.”
If the summer warm-up is any indication, it’s going to be a nasty race. It’s also going to be a race of enormous and often hard-to-track spending, thanks to Citizens United.
We hope, in the shuffle of corporate-speak and spinmeisters, that voters can be heard through the din.
Our readers are certainly engaged, and we encourage that continued engagement as we all try to figure out what’s best for the future of this country.
Unfortunately, too many people, like Sun Journal reader Doreen Mann of Lisbon, are among a growing number of people who are starting to think of "politics" as a four-letter word.
In response to a letter to the editor from Republican supporter Mary Jane Newell of Oxford, Mann commented Friday, “I want to say I have never in my life been so discouraged about what is happening this election year.”
While Newell is frustrated by Democratic spending that she sees as wasteful and irresponsible, Mann is discouraged, she wrote, by watching millions of dollars being spent by third parties to seat a Republican simply to stop a Democrat from retaining the Oval Office.
They are both right in suggesting that we spend a monstrous amount of money on elections in this country, and there are good reasons to believe we simply don’t, as a nation, have the fortitude to better control federal spending or to curtail corporate influence in our elections.
“I say my prayers every day,” Mann said, “and I hope that whatever happens in November we all come together to make this a better America. Our country has been divided too long and we need to make our country strong again and make it No. 1 in the world.”
Amen to that.
Paul St. Jean of Lewiston, a regular SJ contributor, offered this interesting analogy on party philosophy Friday morning:
“Republicans will teach you how to bake cakes and sell them so you can make lots of money. Democrats will bake the cakes for you, but give you only the crumbs in small amounts so as to keep you on their dole.”
Not quite the words of Marie Antoinette, but a clear reference that the powerful decide who gets cake and how it’s distributed.
St. Jean posted his comment online in response to a letter from Dolores Ginn of Auburn in which she expressed some dismay over Hollywood support for Republican candidate Mitt Romney.
Her dismay may be real, but celebrity backing has long been standard in campaigns, no matter the political party.
During the Republican National Convention last week, Clint Eastwood wasn't the only celebrity attending. Spotted during the three-day event were other Romney supporters, including Jeff Bridges and Rosario Dawson.
Interestingly, when singers Wyclef Jean and Bebe Winans each announced they would perform at the RNC, their invitations to attend the DNC were withdrawn. Both had performed at the DNC in Boston in 2004 and their respective decisions to attend the RNC this year, it seems, indicates party loyalty is important. Even for celebrities.
At the Democratic National Convention on Thursday, "Desperate Housewives" star Eva Longoria not only attended, she was given a speaking role during the evening’s festivities.
And America’s newest celebrity, U.S. Olympian Gabby Douglas, opened Wednesday’s proceedings with a Pledge of Allegiance before scooting to California for her sparkling appearance on the MTV Awards Thursday night.
Maybe celebrities are so comfortable being around presidents and candidates because so many have played presidential roles on the big screen. Or, in Eastwood’s case, playing the gritty role of guarding a president "In the Line of Fire."
But, then, our future is not a fictional script that wraps in two hours with a guaranteed happy ending. Having a say in our future is as real as it gets. Election Day is our opportunity to sculpt a collective story that will play out in our schools, in our hospitals, at our workplaces and in our communities.
We hope you, our readers, remain engaged as we collectively march along the campaign trail toward Nov. 6.