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Martian flees small planet

William Hamilton / Central View
Grand County, CO Colorado

Let’s say a Martian landed on Planet Earth and asked for an explanation of the current presidential race. What to say?

Well, we could start by quoting the late, great attorney and all-around sage, Oris L. Barney, who used to say that incumbent office-holders try to “point with pride” to their accomplishments while their challengers must “view with alarm” what the incumbent has done or failed to do.

On Nov. 6, voters will decide if President Obama’s record merits another four years in office. The latest Rasmussen poll shows 79 percent of likely voters say their personal finances are not getting any better. That’s a steep hill for President Obama to climb. So, voters may decide to give Mr. Romney an opportunity to get the American economy growing again.

Unfortunately, in addition to “pointing with pride,” and “viewing with alarm,” there is a third activity to which political candidates can resort. It is character assassination. So, if a candidate cannot point with pride to his or her accomplishments, then he or she “views with alarm” the personal life of his or her opponent. Most Americans say they do not like negative campaigning. But professional campaign consultants know that voters have a tendency to vote against rather than vote for. That is why negative campaigning works so well with the late-deciding voters – the voters who do not bother to learn much about what’s going on until the last possible minute. The Martian shakes his head in disbelief.

Each candidate’s hard-core voters have long ago made up their minds and are virtually immune to any new information about their candidate of choice or the opponent. That is why the so-called swing voters or undecided voters get so much last-minute attention from the campaign consultants. But, most often, presidential elections are decided on issues such as domestic economic/social policy or foreign/military policy.

Again, voters can decide if they are better or worse off now than they were four years ago. Voters can decide which social policies they favor or disfavor. For example: Traditional marriages or gay marriages? Or, legal immigration versus throw the borders open to one and all? Traditional medicine or socialized medicine? Voters can decide if America is holding her own in world affairs or is shrinking downward to being just another nation among nations.

But what is different about this race is that we have a sitting president about whom, despite two autobiographies, the voters have little information based on independent records. On the other side, is a candidate about whose life virtually everything is known, to include his last three years of tax returns. But will voters care about the past? Or, will the future be more important?

Race and religion are playing roles in this election because one candidate is half-black and half-white and his religious affiliation may be part-Muslim and part-Christian versus a white opponent whose religion is a branch of Christianity which is accepted by some and not by others.

At this point, the Martian’s eyes are glazing over. As his space ship blasts off, you can see him up on his flight deck just shaking his head.

Nationally syndicated columnist, William Hamilton, was educated at the University of Oklahoma, the George Washington University, the U.S Naval War College, the University of Nebraska, and Harvard University.


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