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Tuesday, February 19 , 2019, 4:10 pm | Fair 55º


Ron Fink: With the Election Over, Now We Can All Rest — Or Can We?

The off-year election cycle has run its course and we can all be thankful for many things. First, our mailboxes won’t be full of literature, the roadways won’t be cluttered with those tacky “elect me” signs and the airways won’t be interrupting your favorite show to tell you how good or bad candidates are.

There were many claims and counter-claims as there often are during an election. That’s the American way to say good things about your favorite issue or candidate and bad things about the opposing view. The truth of the matter is frequently lost in the rhetoric, and most people don’t take the time to do their own research.

Rep. Lois Capps' recent campaign where her handlers extracted one phrase from one sentence in her opponent’s speech is a prime example of why you should never rely on any candidate’s campaign advertising to make your decisions, because no matter what the party affiliation is, the one thing you can always rely on is that these ads, by their very nature, are extremely biased and may be far from the truth.

But now the newly elected have to figure out how to deal with the Obama administration. Republicans swept this year’s elections because of failed policies and poor decision-making. But will they deliver on the mandate they got from voters or squander the opportunity? We’ll know the answer by this time next year.

Locally, Measure P, the so-called anti-fracking measure, failed by a wide margin. This must make the two South Coast supervisors who supported it feel irrelevant — after all, they spent a lot of political capital for no political gain.

But the proponents have made strong statements that they are going to try again, and considering the very close connection that those same supervisors have with the environmental community. there is no telling how this will turn out. I would carefully watch future regulatory proposals whose purpose would be to eliminate or significantly restrict oil production in the county.

Next is the 2016 election, where you will be spun like clothes in a dryer as the top dogs of each party seek to convince you that they know best how to run the country. Close and careful research on your part should help guide you as you make your choice.

You will be bombarded with claims, many false and unsupported by the facts, of what the candidate has accomplished in the past to establish his or her credibility and equally distorted criticism from the opponent.

The candidates will hit the trail for several weeks, each trying to outdistance the other as they visit coffee shops and county fairs, march in parades and kiss babies. But each has a well-established agenda, and even though they will smile, shake your hand and pretend to have an interest in what you’re saying, they’ll just move on to the next stop, listening only to their trusted advisers and high-dollar donors.

Then there will be the nominating conventions where groups of people who are selected as party delegates will gather to decide who their candidate will be. We average voters have no choice in the matter; the delegates know much better than us who’s best.

After they select someone, the real circus begins.

Hundreds of millions of dollars will be tossed away like confetti to promote the favored candidate by both parties. Just suppose for a minute that all that money was used for something more useful, like funding medical research to find cures for contagious diseases or to fund food banks. Wouldn’t America be a better place?

Back in the day (1960 to the late 1980s), all we had to guide us were the three major networks and the print media, who frequently had biased views that tainted their coverage. Today, we have information overload.

Not only do we have the traditional three networks, but we have 24/7 commentary from multiple sources that is tainted with misinformation, innuendo and strong opinions based on the outlet executive’s own political philosophy, and, of course, there are Internet bloggers. To make matters worse, instead of checking facts for themselves, reporters and commentators often rely on someone else’s erroneous reporting as the basis for the “facts” they are analyzing.

The average voter has trouble sorting through all this stuff and out of desperation will tune out all the noise and listen to the music on their favorite device or watch reruns of Dr. Phil on TV.

When it’s all over, election day will come and millions of people will cast their vote — mostly based on what they heard the day before, what organized labor told them to do, what their families party affiliation has been or how the candidate looked in pictures on TV or in their campaign literature but rarely based on any independent research.

So get ready for a massive public relations campaign, but think for yourself and be wary of what the candidates handlers tell you.

— Ron Fink, a Lompoc resident since 1975, is retired from the aerospace industry and has been active with Lompoc municipal government commissions and committee since 1992, including 12 years on the Lompoc Planning Commission. He is also a voting member of the Santa Barbara County Taxpayers Association. Contact him at [email protected]. The opinions expressed are his own.

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