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HETRICK: Take two aspirin and call me when the election's over

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Bruce Hetrick

Summer has come and passedThe innocent can never lastWake me up when September ends– Green Day

By the time this is published, we will be six weeks, four debates, 35 gaffes, 12 leaked videos, 267 charges, 534 countercharges, 5,680 grainy slow-motion attack ads, 1,029 opinion polls and 2,827 fundraising appeals from the 2012 presidential election. Thank God and hallelujah it’s almost over.

I don’t know about you, but I’m ready to vote. I’ve been ready to vote.

I’ve studied the candidates, analyzed the issues and watched my political Twitter feed accelerate to autobahn speeds.

I’ve read newspaper columns left, right and center. Watched “Meet the Press,” “Face the Nation,” “This Week” and “Fox News Sunday.” I’ve even worn out the mute button on my TV zapping political ads I’ve already seen 1,000 times.

If the intent of the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision was to make citizens united in their disgust with excessively funded, overkill politics, then it’s succeeded.

The Republicans have me on their snail mail list, probably from some long-ago contributions to smoke-free workplace supporters—or to Dick Lugar, a fellow too moderate, intelligent and thoughtful for today’s Republican Party.

So every time I open my mailbox, there’s a new letter from Mitt Romney. Or a photograph of Mitt Romney signed by Mitt Romney’s auto-pen. Or a letter from some Republican Party official. Or some Republican senator. Or some Republican House member.

A la “Chicken Little,” they all tell me the sky is falling (because of Barack Obama, not climate change; they don’t believe in climate change). They tell me the sky will fall faster if the likes of Barack Obama, Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid are in power. They tell me they’ll do better. They don’t tell me how.

The Democrats have me on e-mail and text lists. Probably because of contributions to smoke-free workplace supporters, tobacco-regulation supporters and health-care-for-all supporters.

So every 30 seconds, I get an e-mail from Barack Obama. Or Michelle Obama. Or Joe Biden. Or some Democrat Party official. Or some Democratic senator. Or some Democratic House member.

They invite me to dinner with Barack. Or a party for Barack at George Clooney’s house.

They tell me about Mitt Romney’s latest gaffe. Or the threat to the middle-class masses if Mitt Romney, Paul Ryan, Mitch McConnell and John Boehner are in power.

They tell me we’re digging our way out of the Republican-caused mess. That we’re moving forward. That we can’t afford to go back.

They tell me we need to end the gridlock in Washington. They don’t tell me how.

Having read all these fundraising appeals, having watched Clint Eastwood talk to an empty chair at one convention and Bill Clinton “lickin’ to tell me” at the other, having seen a policy forum with Indiana’s gubernatorial candidates, having read and watched umpteen thousand campaign news stories, having studied horse-race poll results ad nauseum, having seen my friends turn on one another in Facebook posts, I’m more than ready for the final month of this campaign.

So here’s my October election approach—which shouldn’t surprise anyone.

I’ll be informed. I’ll continue to read, watch and learn—including and especially the debates. If Mitt Romney comes up with a “There you go again” moment, a la Ronald Reagan, I’ll add it to the political encyclopedia in my head. If Joe Biden hits Paul Ryan with, “Folks, I knew Ted Kennedy. Ted Kennedy was a friend of mine. And Congressman, you’re no Ted Kennedy,” I’ll catalog that one, too.

I’ll be entertained. While politics and governing are serious business, they’re also great fodder for comedians. The nightly news and the Sunday morning shows pale in comparison to David Letterman, Jay Leno, Jimmy Fallon, Stephen Colbert, “Saturday Night Live,” Bill Maher and Jon Stewart.

To put a spin on an old ABC slogan, I’d venture to guess that more people (especially young people) get their political news from political comedy than from any other source.

I will not be suppressed. I have my driver’s license, passport, Social Security card, four utility bills and my parents standing by to prove that I am who I say I am at the polls.

I will not be bought or bamboozled. The millionaires and billionaires with their super PACs and 501(c)(4)s can spend all they want on deception, distortion and other disruptive ads. I’ll be happy that my friends in television are making a killing selling every second of advertising time. But the more those ads twist the truth, the less likely they’ll be to twist my arm.

I will value substance over slams. As September ends, I’m sick of hearing what’s wrong with the other guy. I want to hear what candidates will do and how. My mind is made up. A fresh take on “how to” is the only thing that might change it.

But I doubt it. Wake me up when it’s time to vote.•

__________

Hetrick is an Indianapolis-based writer, speaker and public relations consultant. His column appears twice a month. He can be reached at bhetrick@ibj.com.

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