Experiencing campaign fatigue? There’s an app for that

Did you know that you can get an app for your iPhone or iPad that let’s you have your picture taken “with” President Obama? Using apps, you can see the most recent articles, video clips and slide shows on political campaigns from FOX News or watch the latest Rachel Maddow show. Then get the PolitiFact mobile app and read the Truth-O-Meter’s take on your candidate’s latest assertions.

Yup, the relentless deluge of information and spin leading up to the November 2012 elections comes to us from dozens of apps, television, radio, newspapers, Facebook twitter and resolute phone calls from folks doing polls and asking for donations or your vote. While it may be tempting to cut the power, disconnect the phone and go dark until Nov. 6, there are good reasons to stay in the loop for the long game.

To see how local politics will affect your work and wallet, you’ll want to check out the local mayoral and city council candidates and keep tabs on the township races. Look into the contest between incumbent Sen. Amy Klobuchar and Republican challenger Kurt Bills. Follow Republican Jim Tuomala’s challenge to DFL State Rep. David Dill.

You never know, if we keep listening we might enrich our points of view. As Bill Moyers says in A World of Ideas, “When I learn something new—and it happens every day—I feel a little more at home in the universe, a little more comfortable in the nest.”

Folks I know are staffing phone banks for President Obama and for Democrat Rick Nolan, who is challenging incumbent Republican Chip Cravaack for Congress in the 8th District. I’ll make it a point to answer what I know from caller ID is a political call at least once a day, just because I’ve made those calls myself and felt encouraged when someone picked up the phone and talked to me.

The presidential election only comes around every four years and leads us through a maze of information and misinformation to the growing edge of frustration with our democracy. Candidates put forth their best thinking, or their key strategies, and we try to pick apart the mind-blowing flaws in their values, logic and conclusions. It’s a conversation that’s been going on since pre-historic humans argued about regulating use of the wheel while hunched around primitive cave fires. It’s only in more recent centuries that we’ve had formal debates, like our first presidential face-off on Oct. 3.

The pundits from MSNBC to FOX had their say on the upshot of that debate, the consensus being that Governor Mitt Romney scored more punches, though many of them were thought to be below the belt, while the referee looked the other way. The President came across as professorial and less effective than the more aggressive Romney in that arena. Obama’s performance in the first debate left us itching for him to toughen up and trade a few punches this past Tuesday.

One headline in the StarTribune Wednesday capsulized the Oc. 16 rematch well, saying “Obama comes out swinging, and Romney’s ready.” The President and Governor Romney alternately had each other on the ropes, but only the fact checkers among us could honestly gauge the validity of each candidate’s attacks on the other.

A first round of PolitiFact.com checks on the town hall debate in New York gave Obama one “false” for contending that Romney called the Arizona law allowing police to stop any suspicious looking person and check their papers “a model for the nation.”

Romney got a “pants-on-fire” ranking for his much repeated assertion that Obama began his presidency “with an apology tour” of the world.

In the other five statements ranked, Romney earned two “half-trues” and a “true.” Obama landed a “true” and a “mostly-true.” I learned more by reading the fact-checkers on Wednesday as I did by listening to the debate.

It’s interesting that learning something every day makes Bill Moyers feel more at home in the universe. I often think that the campaign’s onslaught of facts, opinion, paranoia, lies, spin and even healthy conversation makes some of us feel more tense and irritable.

We might be tempted to shut down, go numb and wander, feeling dazed, into the voting booth on Nov. 6. Instead, I recommend we keep trying to bring light and logic to the public dialogue. When that gets tiresome, do some deep breathing, take a walk or read the funnies. If that fails to calm the weary, political lobe of your brain, take an even more restful break before you trudge back into the fray.

As they say on your iPhone, there’s a nap for that.


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