Unapproved Messages

I cannot remember the last time I picked up the house phone. In fact, when it rings—does it ever stop ringing?—the family choir croons in unison, “Don’t answer it!” Visits to the mailbox are down to once a week (and a wheelbarrow is now required to haul the contents, 95 percent of which immediately—blindly—gets tossed into the trash). And the channel-changing and mute buttons are now indistinguishable on the TV remote.

Such is life during election season, when we red-blooded Americans return home after another long day on the job—those of us lucky enough to have jobs, that is—hoping to unwind, only to be bombarded by telephone solicitations, politically charged junk mail and vicious attack ads on television. They want our money, our opinion, our support, our vote. And you think to yourself: Wait a second, aren’t these the same characters constantly crying about overspending and the need to “live within our means”?

Yet here are Romney and Obama and Berkley and Heller and Tarkanian and Horsford and every candidate from sea to shining sea, pouring millions—billions?—into their campaigns. The anger intensifies when you realize that, by the very nature of the democratic process—in which each race can have but one winner—more than 50 percent of the campaign cash essentially ends up flushed down the commode. All the while the national debt grows, education remains underfunded and the economy remains a mess.

“Yes, but this is the best system in the world!” they say.

I’m beginning to wonder …



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