This isn't perfectly fair; I've known a couple of people who held office and considered one a friend. And the attitude isn't good for my soul. So I decided to lay off reading about or commenting about politics for Lent.
I forgot about the election next Tuesday.
I had a look at the ballot the other day, and there aren't a lot of contests in our district. The school board should be fairly straightforward to study. The others I figured would be obfuscated a bit.
Wisconsin is an open-primary state, and so I have the choice of voting in either the Democratic or Republican presidential primary. The Democratic side is boring (the incumbent or a write-in). I figured I should research the Republicans. I haven't watched or read any of the debates, which I gather were somewhat better than the usually scripted affairs we've been offered before. Online is faster anyway.
I notice that when an organization evaluates a candidate, what they say they dislike often tells more than what they say they like. Trying to figure out why a senator would vote for X one month and oppose X' the next month, even though it seems very similar, suggests that there's a devil in the details; and sometimes I find out what it was and learn something of the nuances in the candidates views. (I throw out fliers and hang up on robo-calls--they convey no useful information.)
The TV hasn't worked since broadcasts went digital, and in any event I found long ago that avoiding TV news of any description left me better informed. The impressions I got from the newspapers and radio seem somewhat at odds with what the candidate's records tell me. That's not a big surprise, since by and large the big media reporting on Republicans is like the Muslim Brotherhood reporting on Jewish Defense League elections. No, the Fox channel never came in clearly. Why do you ask?
One area of overlap is in foreign affairs: the media impression and my review agree that the four don't seem very proficient--though only Ron Paul seems as poor as the incumbent. Granted, if there are grand strategic plans you don't always want them bruited about, but there are ways to talk knowingly without threatening.
So, let's see. A pity we can't mix qualities from each.
Ron Paul seems to actually understand that we have an economic crisis and wants to do something about it. Unfortunately he's a Libertarian and quite a few of his prescriptions can't come within miles of flying. (Gold standard? That boat sailed, and we're stuck with fiat currency with all the temptations that offers governments.)
Newt seems to relish fighting. That can be useful, but I'm not sure he keeps his eye on the ball.
Santorum isn't as far afield as he is painted; either by the newspapers or by his opponents. Mostly he seems pretty sound.
Mitt seems to have been all over the map on several hot-button issues, and his plan was the inspiration for Pelosi-Care. His version doesn't seem to have worked very well in Mass. Has Mitt changed, or is he just talking? On the plus side he seems to have been a pretty good manager--and that's nothing to sneeze at when electing a chief administrator.
I wish I had some sense for what politicians believe and what is just fashionable. I think it blindingly obvious that a line-item veto would, as a moral hazard, make the bills coming from the Federal Legislature far worse than they already are. Do the candidates support that because they think it would help, or because it is in the air?
That's two hours trying to do my civic duty. Now for the school board.
But first I have to ask whether I was able to review the candidates dispassionately and without feeling superior... Not quite. Mostly I disliked reporters, but ...