Election Editorial: America's 2012 Election
Singled out as one of the most contested elections in American history, the 6th November, 2012 election between President Barrack Obama (Democrat) and Mitt Romney (Republican) caught the world’s attention. To Saulny (1), the Election Day seemed to be a reprieve for the American citizens who considered the presidential campaigns as such that having brought to them unreasonable amount of stress into their lives. Saulny gives an example of Esther Jenkins; a retired teacher who did not only consider the 2012 election as a marathon that started a long ago, but confessed that she could not, as well, get enough sleep through the night as the Election Day approached. Her claims did not differ from that of other voters who confessed to have equally waited anxiously for the polls to be opened. They were now considerate to believe that the strident and polarized contest between President Obama and Romney was coming to an end (Saulny 1).
However, what transpired on the Election Day that led to the re-election of President Obama for a second term was marked issues, such as cross-national differences in political participation, the role of corporations and media in the election outcomes, racial differences in voting, as well as the nature of discourse of the American politics. It is in respect of such issues that this paper presents a commentary on the 6th November, 2012 America’s election.
The elections were also an indication that the American politics has disenchant from what it was meant for, which is a democratic process deployed to proportionally motivate the ever smaller electorate groups to vote. Hay (1) noted that the electoral participation was low among the young American citizens. While the agitation for the minority was marked with often bloody and protracted struggle to free, fair, and open election, Manza (833) believes that the evident emerging democracy in the country has resulted from the fact that there is a decreasing level of the initial depressive forces, such as racial segregation. This was evident by the re-election of President Obama to the State house. The just concluded election also demonstrated the maturity of democracy in the country. Hogue (1) points out that the idea of American citizens; the rich and the poor, young and old, white and black; demonstrated their right to make a decision concerning the person to govern them.
For this election, the suppression of voters by GOP was seen as an act of threatening people’s democracy. As the CNN reporter, Hogue, states, “This election year is the culmination of years of Republican efforts to foment confusion and fear to keep certain Americans from voting.” Her point of view culminated by misrepresentation claim that was made by the Obama campaign team to Wisconsin’s attorney about Romney’s campaign on election materials used to train Election Day’s poll observers. The issue surrounded the rumors that Romney had issued a document that had noted that felony convicts are not having the right to vote even after completing their sentences. The writer points out that the sentence which was posted on Google website for not less than 10 seconds presented Romney’s campaign team of grossly breaching election laws to deceive volunteers in order to gain the required votes. In addition, the act of using media by either side of the political divide to enrich their campaign through deceitful approach takes one to the next discussion of the role of corporation and media in election outcomes.
As pointed out by Morris (57), the emergence of new media or new news’ sources provide a more fashionable, convenient and entertaining way of engaging voters and carrying out campaigns. It was evidenced in the just concluded election that such new media sources as; Internet, talk radios, tabloids, comedy-based talk-shows, television and cables news changed the manner in which American people engage in politics. It is further evident that demographic and attitudinal factors have an influence on the manner in which individual Americans determine which cable station to utilize in accessing political news. A survey by CNN showed that only 23 percent of young adults, against 46 percent of older Americans, frequently got presidential primary campaign news from nightly aired networks. This revelation was instrumental to the presidential candidates during their public debates as they knew their target groups.
On their part, Hellweg, Pfua and Brydon (1) point out that media broadcasting industry also plays a crucial role especially in ensuring that presidential contenders are accessible to their voters. This was evident as the presidential candidates were organizing presidential debates which drew millions of listeners. As has been in the case, since the first radio presidential debate broadcast between Republicans Thomas Dewey and Harold Stassen, which was conducted in May 17, 1948, the media were used as a presidential campaign platform. That is, the just concluded election also saw the two presidential candidates being publicly interviewed concerning how they would deal with such issues as insecurity which are of great national interest.
As Saulny (1) reports, media were not only used for the presidential debate between Obama and Romney, it also solicited political disguised that left most voters disarrayed by America’s political process. She notes that the amount of spending on radio, phone calls, direct mails, as well as television advertisements, flooded the attention of American voters. The media especially pointed out Ohio and Florida as the swing states that would determine America’s next president. President Obama seemed to have realized this and, in the cause of campaign, outspent Romney on television by $154 million in a span of 8 months (Terkel 1). It is such projection that made American voters turn out in significant numbers in casting their votes all over the country. For instance, in Aurora, Colorado east, there was a long line of voters that passed through the hallways and out of county government building’s door waiting for approximately three hours to vote. Saulny (1) adds that even volunteers gave in free bus riding to voters to less-frenzied poling stations.
While Hellweg, Pfua and Brydon (12) note that media plays a crucial role in the outcome of election, the just concluded election pointed to the need for candidates to be aware of the intention of those who sponsor such events. This is because, even though the two presidential candidates profited from proliferation of debate sponsors, it was clear that the bipartisan interest of corporations and League sponsors had a great influence on the voting pattern in America. It was evidenced that the materialistic self-interest nature of profit-driven corporations and leagues with no collective and authoritative decision-making body can promote the exploitation of voters. For example, Hay (2) notes that it is because the country’s politics were partly sponsored by corporations and Women League, that collective rationality was imposed among the voters, even where it could not prevail. The American citizens, therefore, failed to consider such important factors as whether the country had a budget deficit or surplus, the rate of unemployment or even that of inflation. It was evident that people voted on racial, cross-national and gender components (Carpini and Keeter 64).
For instance, Saulny (1) reports that the unprecedented amount of sponsorship and spending on campaigns did under-informed some voters. Jack Lewis, an American voter comment that, “I feel totally confused”. He indicates that certain individuals, for example, only voted for Mr. Romney because he is a renowned businessman whom they believe can be able to relax the labor and transportation laws that he deems as challenging for his tow-truck business. Other analysts have also maintained that the just concluded election was not about economics, but rather the racial component. Saulny (1) quotes a 50-year old Howard Baker living in Atlanta population which inhibits most of the Africa-Americans as describing the election as racial. Baker claimed that “It is about trying to get a black man out of the office.”
Additionally, the split in American electorates on Tuesday 6th November, 2012 pointed out how gender, region, religion and marital status played crucial roles in the voting pattern. Analysts like Terkel (1) have argued that President Obama was able to use the above issues as his campaigning platforms, especially in suppressing the undecided voters. Republican’s inability to win election, as claimed by Karl Rove, a Republican political strategist, was based on the painting of Mr. Romney by Obama as only “a rich guy who only cares for himself.” This presented Romney as being out of touch with the ordinary citizen. This made 53 percent of voters denounce him on the basis that his policies would only help the rich. Rove also noted the inability of GOP to reach out to Latino and young voters who have contributed to the Republican’s loss. He adds that for the Republicans to win any election in the future, they will have to strategize on how to better reach out to Latinos and women; especially those who are single.
In conclusion, the 6th November, 2012 America’s election has established essential factors that should be considered by campaign teams in ensuring a win to the election. Equally, the election revealed the need for the legislatures not to reduce the time for early voting, in order to curb the long queues that were evident during the Election Day. Additionally, it is important for sponsors of presidential debate to understand the influence of media in enforcing election outcomes and to air such debates not for their selfish interest but for the interest of entire American population. Moreover, voters should effectively understand the ideologies of different parties so as not to vote along racial, gender, age, religion, income base, cross-national and social status as was partly the case.
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