Ah, it’s that time of year again.

I woke up Saturday morning, trying to get some writing done before heading into work, when my doorbell rings. It’s folks campaigning for some candidate (I can tell from their red, white, and blue outfits with names on buttons all over them). So I treated the campaigners like I do salesmen and Jehovah’s witnesses: I pretended to not be home.

A temporary tactic to be sure. It’s not like I can turn off my television (as if – luckily, God invented TiVo) or my radio. I’m doomed to be inundated with ads for a bunch of people trying to convince of something I’m just this side of too cynical to believe: this election matters.

For a little more than 10 minutes of the three-hour event, Brizzi and Kennedy debated who has the right experience and credentials to be prosecutor. Brizzi said he’s gone “toe-to-toe with the worst of the worst,” while Kennedy’s experience is in administration, as a former deputy mayor.

“If you or a loved one was victimized by a violent criminal, who would you want handling the case?” he asked. Kennedy said the real question is: “Do you feel you’re safer now than you have been?”

The sniping has already begun among candidates. Carl Brizzi is taking some heat over the recent homicide high. However, I don’t know how much of it has registered with us, Joe Citizen. Those hoping for a concerned and active citizenry have another strike against them. It’s an off year election – it usually takes the chance to vote for a president (you know, the only election that counts, apparently) to begin to draw us out or at least have an interesting debate in the country.

Of course I don’t care about these races, not even the local ones that will affect me most directly? Why? Because no one has given me a reason to. You probably aren’t going to catch me with a TV ad because I believe in limiting how much advertising gets into our house in the first place (which is why we used to only watch television shows we had on videotape and now only watch via TiVo). I don’t want to be marketed to, I want to be convinced. Despite my ability to stay as uninformed as possible. You see the dilemma, right?

That’s me, Joe Citizen.

Both parties have public relations issues. As far as I can tell, the Republicans’ rhetoric centers too much talking in terms of money and running the country like a business. That’s good and all, but there aren’t too many things I want run like a business, except maybe a business. It’s like folks who tell me they want to run church like a business. I hate to break it to you but serving the needs of people is very seldom bottom-line, cost effective. Love (in the case of church) or compassion (a dream I hold out for with government) isn’t efficient. And like I said before, the last time I was seriously involved in local politics, the Republicans had some issues with minorities and women.

Right now the Democrats don’t look much better. They seem to be running under the campaign position of “we’re not them”. If they were smart, they would find a way to exploit the national dissatisfaction with President Bush, the same way the Republicans managed to ride a wave of dissatisfaction with President Clinton. Nationalize the campaigns, make a ten point presentation of the things you stand for and/or will accomplish if given control of Congress.

But, it’s too late for that to happen. It’s too late to raise the level of debate in the country, to woo us with ideas, however controversial. Better to throw out some platitudes, count on electoral disinterest, and rally your most faithful.

While at the Indy’s Irish Fest, I stopped by the Marion County Republican Party booth. I wanted to pose one question: “if you have only five minutes, can you convince me why I should care about this election?” Her answer: “because I’m running for election” (I’ve really got to start paying attention, at least to the pamphlets on the table).

So I’m going to do a little experiment. Once again, my vote is up for grabs. Either party. [You want to know the truth about why I’m registered as a Republican? When I decided to register to vote, I called up both parties. I care, but I’m lazy. I called the Democrats first – they’re first in the phone book. They told me where I could go to get registered. Then I called the Republicans. They came to my door. That’s why they get the right of first refusal of my vote.] I’m going to see how many candidates for local offices I can get to talk to me to convince me why I should care about this election. We’ll see how it goes.

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