Monday, April 30, 2012
Marcus Carey’s On the Marc: The power resides with ‘the people,’ if they want it
Are you an interested voter? Do you consider yourself one of those diminishing few who are still paying attention? Are you confident that the decisions you make are informed ones and thus have confidence in your vote?
As a 40-year veteran of insider political experience let me pass along two very important pieces of shocking news. Today’s successful political campaign requires specialized marketing skills. What you think you see is what someone wanted you to see.
Let me illustrate my point. Except in a small town city race, a county school board contest or maybe in any campaign for local office, what is the likelihood that you will have any significant degree of personal involvement with the candidates to have formed a reasoned opinion in a variety of contexts about his/her character and fitness for office sufficient to make a fully informed decision? Or put another way, on a scale of “best friend – close personal association – frequent social friend – casual acquaintance – passing acquaintance – know his/her name/face – don’t know them at all,” where would you put most of the candidates running?
If you are like most people, except in the small community setting mentioned above, it is highly unlikely that you will know much if anything about the candidates before they began a campaign. For example, just ask yourself, where on that scale would you have put Rick Santorum, Mitt Romney, John Huntsman, Rick Perry or Barack Obama before they became candidates?
Now ask yourself, how well do you think you know them now? Is it starting to become clearer that what you know is something someone wanted you to know?
Some of the things you know are good things, others are bad things. But how many of the things you know now did you discover from your own research, and how much of it did you learn from using Google, or watching Fox News, MSNBC or CNN?
I have worked inside politics since I was a teen. My next birthday I will be 60. In that time I have watched as the competition for office has become a very sad affair. And I’m not just talking about mudslinging, or the influence of money; I’m talking about the lustful desire of the candidates to create a public image which is that of the person they wish they were, but more than likely are not.
Forty-plus years later what I see is a world so different from the culture in which our method of selecting political officeholders was originally designed, that my general reaction to politics is probably much like yours, a combination of feeling hopeless, powerless, frightened and sick.
What was the original vision? What has happened since? How did we get here? Are we truly powerless? What can we do to make things better?
This is the introductory article of a series I will be writing this week. I hope you will come along with me and explore the vision our founders had, the nature of political competition that defined the world in which they lived and my historical account of the twists and turns since those times which have brought us to where we are today.
And I will also give you a behind-the-scenes look at what is going on right now, right in front of your face that you won’t get from any other perspective. That part might shock you a bit, but I hope it spurs you to action. Why? Because I believe we still live in the greatest nation on earth and that the power to make the changes we want is still within our grasp.
Stay tuned. Tomorrow we will look at politics through a time machine as America picks its first President under the new constitution.
Marcus Carey is a Northern Kentucky lawyer with 32 years experience. He is also a farmer, talk radio host and public speaker who loves history and politics. He is a prolific and accomplished writer whose blog, BluegrassBulletin.com is “dedicated to honest and respectful comment on the political and cultural issues of our time.” He writes a regular commentary for KyForward.