Facts and statistics share at least one thing in common - they can both be manipulated to prove the point of the individual trying to get one step ahead of the other guy.
When I was in college, my professor of statistics started our first class with the above phrase - and I have found it to be true. If you watched either of the two political conventions over these past couple of weeks, then you must also find this to be true - the fact checkers are having a field day. From Clint Eastwood talking to an empty chair to President Clinton rocking the house - passion was subdued and exaggerated in both camps, and both conventions told some truth, some partial truths and some down right untruths - some important things were left out all together - like those facts and statistics!
When Mitt Romney failed to mention Afghanistan in his acceptance speech one would have thought the earth should open up and swallow him whole. This was a major talking point until the Democratic Committee took out "God" from their platform, and did not confirm Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. They did add "God and Jerusalem" back into the platform language after a vote - three times in which the "nays" were definitely louder than the "yeas" to leave it as it was, but it passed anyway and the language was modified.
Weather hampered both conventions and caused some changes at the last minute, but politics prevailed. One side said one thing and it was pounced upon by the other, and vice-a-versa. The rhetoric at the Republican Convention tried to get the audience to fall in love with Romney and see him as a real person - I saw him that way before the convention, so I didn't need much convincing. The Democratic Convention focused on bringing the issues of abortion, female reproductive rights, and pay equity to the forefront - until President Clinton took the stage.
Like him, or hate him, Bill Clinton is a force to be reckoned with! He knows how to excite a crowd, and when he walked off that stage President Obama was happier than he had been in quite a while. Whether President Clinton told the whole truth or anything but the truth, he made an impression that will last for a while, and one that will overshadow facts, statistics, and anything else that is said in these next 50-some days until the election.
But is that what we want? Is it really about who is the most passionate? Is it really about reproductive rights? Is this election really about the rhetoric and how much money is spent on ads and bus trips around the country? This election is about the economy and the lack of jobs. We human beings can too easily be fooled by the glitz and glitter that is laid out in front of us - but let's not be fooled about who we are and in what we believe. Our economy is still on a downward slide, our unemployment rate is still over 8 percent and there are more than 23 million people out of work. Our small business owners are suffering, our manufacturing jobs are still being sent overseas, and the healthcare providers are not welcoming Obamacare with open arms!
Facts, President Obama said, "You didn't build it." But we all know that isn't what he meant, he was speaking about the government services, infrastructures and utilities that are necessary before a building can go up, or a plant be built. And yet, that one phrase of only four words will be heard over and over again, and it will be believed.
It is reported that Romney said, "Let the auto industry go bankrupt." Again, that is not what he said. Actually, Romney said, "In a managed bankruptcy, the federal government would propel newly competitive and viable automakers, rather than seal their fate with a bailout check." He advocated a managed bankruptcy - and, you know what, that is what ultimately happened. Further, for those of us who had stock in GM, it is now worthless! We, in effect, have paid twice - once with our now worthless stock, and again with our tax dollars.
Facts and statistics can be manipulated - know the truth when you go to the polls - and ask yourself are you better off than you were four years ago? If yes, then vote for the re-election of President Obama. If you are one of the 23 million out of a job, if you have lost your home, your kids can't get a job, your credit cards are maxed out, and you are now among the 50 million plus welfare and Medicaid recipients, then vote for change. However you vote, know the truth - we can't depend on just the facts and statistics these days.
Have a great day.
Vicki Westling is a Dunkirk resident. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org