NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. - Forgive my rather lengthy absence from this blog since my last entry. Last week I had wanted to pool my thoughts on The Prestige and Halloween---among other topics---but I guess I was either too busy or not enough in the mood---in other words, my usual pathetic excuses.
Well, I'm currently waiting for a particular computer lab on-campus to open up so I can work on an Editing & Layout project that's due on Wednesday (I have to design an inside newspaper page). So here I am, about to bitch about...my election-day cynicism, once again. (Perhaps I'll get to The Prestige---actually a pretty good, intriguing film, although less sheer fun than this year's other magic movie, The Illusionist---some other time. And dammit, I didn't get to see this weekend's No. 1 cinema attraction Borat this weekend; gotta catch up on that for sure!)
Tomorrow is Election Day, and I'm still figuring out whether I'm going to be voting or not. Once again, I'm forced to admit that I don't really know a whole heck of a lot about either New Jersey senatorial candidate, Democrat Robert Menendez and Republican Tom Kean, Jr.---and, judging from the sheer amount of smear ads I've seeing on television regarding this campaign, I'm not sure if I really care to know, either.
Now, I'm just going by what I've been hearing...but when I hear that this year's N.J. senatorial campaign has apparently sent a new high (or low) in mudslinging, once again I just can't help but throw my figurative hands up in the air and cry out, "Why does politics have to be so damn dirty?" Apparently the first televised debate between Menendez and Kean degenerated into insults and allegations. Issues? Who cares, really? Image-building is what political campaigning seems to be about, anyway. So if one candidate suggests in a brief TV ad that the other accepted bribes or soemthing, the better to put a dent in one's conception of a candidate. And in the mainstream media, what can we base our personal conception of candidates on? Unfortunately, it seems that we can only get an idea of a candidate through those 30-second to 1-minute ads, most of which seem intent on convincing us that we're getting undigested information about one candidate or another, when the fact of the matter is, it's only a pretense. I mean, what can you really get out of 30 measly seconds? What can you really get that convinces, anyway?
I dunno. Am I being knee-jerk cynical again? Maybe. What bothers me is that I think I've been indoctrinated to believe that my cynicism is a bad thing---that I'm just being blindly negative, that I'm just whining without trying to do something about my disillusionment, that I'm being smug.
But can I help it? When I hear the news media covering one more story about political corruption, when I see all these mudslinging ads which don't even come close to touching on relevant and potent issues, and when it seems like a struggle to try to find a source of good, solid, in-depth information about the positions of candidates, I can't help but feel just a little bit sour toward the system in general---toward the media's seemingly misplaced priorities, toward politicians' apparent hunger for power, etc. Yeah, maybe I am being smug about my political hopelessness---and maybe I'm just masking and pathetically trying to rationalize the simple fact that I'm not the most politically active and knowledgeable person, to say the least---but I can't imagine that I'm the only one that isn't turned off by the state of politics in general. And I don't like to think I'm just being knee-jerk cynical. I like to think I have legitimate concerns about what's going on in this faraway land called Politics. What are they planning? Do they really care about their constituents as people? Who knows? You're not necessarily going to get a good idea of such things from the mainstream media.
Still, the question remains: will I vote tomorrow? I dunno. Maybe I should---just to tell myself I voted, that I contributed to the political process, regardless of whether I know or even like any of the candidates. (Based on some of the stuff I've read about Menendez, I'd probably vote for him.) Will it mean anything in the long run? Not sure. But I guess it'll mean just a little something to me---that I'm at least some kind of active citizen, that I'm not entirely a political nihilist. Maybe that's something, I guess.