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ROBB AUSTIN'S TURN

Voters Find the Facts Hard to Find

August 13, 2012 

Most political pundits have weighed in on the vice presidential selection of Republican presumptive presidential nominee, and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney.

He surprised many by picking Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan, the 42 year old Chairman of the House Budget Committee.

Congressman Ryan is an impressive individual, who understands the inner-workings of the federal government and spending. He is also very personable, and clearly someone who has connected with the people he represents.

By all accounts he’ll be an asset to the Republican ticket.

Predictably, comments about Congressman Ryan have fallen along partisan lines. Republicans are enthusiastic about his selection and believe he is someone who will help get the country’s fiscal house in order. Democrats portray him as someone who wants to slash the federal budget and hurt the middle class in the process.

Don’t look for these talking points to change between now and November.

The real issue is whether the country is on the right track, and the question is whether things will get better with four more years of President Barack Obama. Or, should voters try someone new, Governor Romney, for example.

The truth is no one knows exactly what kind of a President we are electing before hand; voters must rely on their best instincts.

It’s more complicated today because candidates can easily look the part of being smart and competent in this television/Internet age. Voters expect presidential candidates to be as articulate as the average television game show host, and if the person is not, he/she is tagged as not being qualified.

Heaven help us if that were the criteria years ago; the country would never have elected Abraham Lincoln, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Harry Truman, Dwight Eisenhower, or Lyndon Johnson. They all had major “personal presentation” flaws that wouldn’t fly in today’s media age.

Today voters want to “feel” connected to their President, and aren’t willing to set aside this aspect when making a choice. It no longer matters whether the candidate will serve in their best interest; they have to like every aspect of him/her, too.

Voters do not grasp the details of every campaign proposal, and thus develop opinions based on the facts they receive from news organizations and the political ads; never mind the accuracy of those reports.

The Ryan Medicare proposal is a good example. His proposal stipulates that no one over the age of 55 years of age will be affected by his plan. Yet, time and time again, news reports and the Democrats say the the plan will adversely affect the elderly, especially in swing states such as Florida where many seniors live.

These are the pitfalls of our modern Democracy. It's hard to separate fact from fiction, and the slant given to information by the news media complicates things even more.

It's little wonder voters still search for the hope and change promised in 2008.