The major political parties begin their national conventions today, continuing them over the next two weeks. Polls show most of us already have decided how we'll vote. Many of us are completely turned off by both parties and their sound-bite shticks.
Still, even if we fit into one of those categories, we owe it to ourselves to tune in on the conventions and listen carefully. Are we satisfied with our federal government? Are we satisfied with the pace of economic recovery? Are we satisfied we really know what presumptive GOP nominee Mitt Romney or Democratic nominee President Barack Obama intends, specifically, to do for us and to us in the next four years?
If we answer no to any of those questions, we have an obligation and responsibility to begin our election work. It is work and it is a responsibility we all should take seriously.
As many of us struggle to find a job or move ahead, and as we read news of a shrinking middle class and incomes, the clichés about so much being at stake in this election ring true.
Democrats, or those leaning that way, should challenge themselves to check out respected and fair convention coverage of the Republican gathering in Tampa this week. As for the Daily Herald, we pledge to provide thorough and fair print reports, with more online. We voters must ask ourselves what are the specific solutions Romney and the Republicans offer? Don't fall victim to the spin of pundits with whom you agree. Question everything. Republicans, or those leaning that way, should challenge themselves to do the same with the Democrats next week. What's real and what's rhetoric? What are the facts? When are the statistics skewed?
Thankfully, perhaps, Illinois likely won't see many of the ad wars in the presidential race. Polls show and it's presumed Obama will carry his home state. So, the conventions offer a strong opportunity for us to tune in and think critically.
Romney, Obama, their running mates and supporters have their work cut out for them. The contest is quite tight. It's not hyperbolic to say our way of American life lies in the balance.
Who will create an environment that will help the private sector create good-paying jobs at a quicker pace? How will each man do that? How can we tackle our enormous debt before it buries us? Who has a specific plan to grow the middle class? Who will help repair the housing mess sooner? What will health care coverage really be like? How can we investigate the facts? Who has a plan for bringing down gas and food prices? For increasing our energy independence? What will each man's approach be to involvement in other nations? How far will each reach into our homes and ways of life? Yes, many of us might be turned off by the blatant attacks and ridiculous rhetoric from both sides. Still, we owe it to ourselves to watch and think critically. We can pretend we're prosecutors. Or perhaps investigative journalists. Who's got a plan? What are the facts? Whom can we trust to lead us to a better life? The next two weeks are prime-time opportunities to hunt for answers from the men who would lead us. Use them wisely.