Traverse City Record-Eagle

June 16, 2012

Another View: What election isn't about

The Holland Sentinel

---- — Americans won't vote for president for almost five months, but we already seem to be in the thick of the presidential campaign. Attack ads denigrating Barack Obama and Mitt Romney are rolling out on television and the web, fueled by hundreds of millions of dollars in "super PAC" money unleashed by the 2010 Citizens United decision. With Michigan again expected to be a "battleground" state, we may be in for the ugliest presidential campaign of our lifetimes.

Most of these ads will generate far more heat than light. Many of them will have nothing to do with the important issues facing America, but will, implicitly or explicitly, question the candidates' character, portraying them as out of the mainstream or somehow un-American. We can't do anything about negative advertising, most of which will come from organizations that the candidates don't control. What we want to do is urge our readers to ignore the attack ads and single-issue sideshows. There are profound differences between the two candidates on policy and philosophy, and we shouldn't be distracted from that.

We submit that neither Mitt Romney nor Barack Obama are extremists, and that both are well within the main currents of contemporary American political life. ...

We reject any attempt to insinuate that Barack Obama or Mitt Romney are in any way "less American" than anyone else. They are not "the other;" each of them is one of us. In the wonderful diversity of ethnicity, religion, occupation and opinion that make up America, Mormon venture capitalists and community organizers with Kenyan fathers are as fully American as a Mayflower descendant or the "waspiest" WASP.

Neither should we allow the mudslingers to influence us through guilt by association. You wouldn't have to look hard to find someone who supports Obama or Romney and who holds an extreme, even repulsive, opinion. Candidates are not required to vouch for every statement made or position held by a supporter. A savvy voter needs to look at whether these supporters are actually political allies who are in a position to influence the candidate's actions or just someone who likes to make noise. Bill Maher and Rush Limbaugh aren't part of this election.

This election is not about contraceptive coverage or gay marriage or student loan rates. It's about our economy — not just its immediate performance but America's debt, infrastructure deficit and long-term prosperity and competitiveness. ...

The Holland Sentinel