In a recent, seemingly endless CDP thread, I’m just appalled at some of the non-sense that people will spew. A recent post finally pulled me out of my shell for a little commentary. In short, the republican author satirically cites 21 humorous reasons why a democrat should not be USA VP – as though this is the sort of reasoning people are actually using in their decision making process.

I probably will get into the debate later about the politicians themselves, but not now. I want to talk about that thread. The discussion degraded a long time ago into a major embarrassment of illogic for anyone who makes a living in Information Technology. It’s no longer about what people believe but the lengths that people will go to in order to discredit someone else who believes differently. Having been targeted a number of times for my choices in technology it’s sort of humorous to see others being targeted in the same way. But in the big picture, I’m not fond of this "kill the messenger" approach to putting forward any position or belief.

Posts like that 21 point satire are typical of how people seem to be relying on completely non-sensical rhetoric to justify their choices or counter the choices of others. This is happening all over the country. It’s an amazing social phenomenon that shows that people want to be right at all costs, no matter what they have to say, no matter how little sense it makes, and regardless of any facts that counter their argument.

There are few postings in that CDP thread that contain actual facts or solid content to support a candidate. Most postings simply fall back on schoolyard-level arguments like "I’m right because you’re wrong" and "you’re stupid because you think X", when in fact that’s not an accurate statement. All this does is create animosity amonst individuals. The approach is divisive and people either aren’t thinking about the social damage that’s being caused everywhere, or (my belief) they simply don’t care. At a distance people are much more bold and aggressive. Politicians will attack one another from a distance in TV ads, but sitting next to one another they’re much more reserved about their accusations. People in forums have a similar disconnection.

Where’s the beef?

When listening to politicians, or reading arguments for or against candidates, or when _writing_ arguments for or against, I encourage everyone to seek out the substantive content. If you’re writing material with no substance, please don’t bother to post it. If you’re reading it, please don’t hesitate to focus on a specific quote and ask what the point is.

As an example, I listen intently to candidate speeches. When they talk about how great America is or how troubled the middle class is, I immediately discard it because anyone in the country can spout the same words, whether they’re a presidential candidate or Joe the plumber. I only pay attention when a candidate says something that no one else can say with any credibility, authority, or indication that it will affect our future. That is, "where’s the beef" of what they just said? Why am I listening to that individual? Of course we should support our troops and of course we want health and a good education for all, but these words mean absolutely nothing without some plan to back them. If the exact same words coming from a presidential candidate can be uttered by your next door neighbor in casual discussion, then it’s not worthy of a major gathering or press quote. If you support a candidate who presents a high volume of this sort of empty content, I encourage you to think about whether the remaining content of substance is compelling enough for you to vote for them to run the country.

As another example, take that 21 point piece. Is there a convincing argument there in support of Sarah Palin, or more importantly for John McCain? Is there anything there of value that will convince someone that Joe Biden is not a qualified VP candidate, or more importantly that Barack Obama is not qualified to be President? I believe the answer to all of these questions is no, so in my opinion the author has wasted a lot of everyone’s time, along with most of the other postings there.

What’s important?

People seem to be spending a lot of time on the wrong topics. I want to know if there is a current relationship between Obama and Acorn. I’m curious if the Acorn/Obama relationship is more recent than 2006 when McCain was supporting them. I want to understand how Palin justifies expenditures of over $150,000 (Alaska State and RNC) for travel and clothing for her family. And I want to know if there are similar expenditures or allowances for the Obama’s and Biden’s. I want to understand why democrats don’t discuss Joe Biden’s relationships with credit card companies. And I want to understand why no one questions the morals of John McCain who cheated on his first wife (who was ill at the time) and eventually divorced her and married his mistress (our future first lady?).

But are these discussions relevant to who will be a world leader? Shouldn’t we be paying more attention to the economy, the wars, our foreign relations, healthcare, and education? Does it make Sarah Palin a better VP candidate when democrats are called woman haters (by the same people who told Hillary to "Iron my shirts")? Do we really give a damn about a dead moose or a beauty pagent? Can’t we compare her pastor’s exorcism of witches and Rev Wright’s "G.D. America" statement, and write them both off as being stupid distractions?

I want to understand where the money will come from to get anything done with everyone cutting taxes. I want to know what’s going to be done to protect our ports and eliminate illegal immigration. I want to understand our future positions with Russia, North Korea, Iran, and other countries – and without stupid rhetoric on either side about what the word "preconditions" means. I want to know how we can get the cost of $150 drugs down to somewhere affordable for people who need them. I want to know how we can increase crime deterrents with better education before the fact and tougher prisons afterward. I want to know how we’re going to care for the large elderly population in our society. And I want to know how all of these things are going to be managed in our "society" without people on either side of the aisle labelling everything as "socialist".

What’s the bottom line?

These days I’m mostly hearing little to nothing about what candidates plan to do, from them or their supporters. It’s all about asking questions of the other people that have nothing to do with the challenges of the day. It’s all about labelling "the other side" as racist, sexist, marxist, or elitist. It’s all about discrediting people who support people with policies – with little regard for specific policies themselves. Is this really how we want to elect our leaders? Assuming we continue down this path of childish distractions, do we have any clue what these people will actually do when any of them finally land in the White House? Do we really want to continue to rip one another apart until someone gets in office – and only then will we find out what they really stand for?