As an American that was raised in the 70s and 80s, like most of my contemporaries I have had a sense of duty instilled in my very existence since a very young age. The morning routine was simple; the buzzer would sound at 9:10, indicating the beginning of the school day, and we stood, placed our hands over our hearts and recited the “Pledge of Allegiance”, as led by a booming voice over the PA system. I am proud that I did that every morning, and even led the high school through the exercise in my junior and senior year, so don’t think that this is some anti-pledge or anti-American rant. Because it’s not.

As we make our way through our school years, we learn about the history of our country, how it affects us today and the importance of keeping abreast of current events and the like. It’s important to know where we have been, where we are and where we are going. This is the reason that I try to keep on top of current events; I have a stake in the future and I want to be part of it. There are many things worth fighting for to further the foundation of our country: life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

But, gosh, it is getting harder and harder to listen to the news without kicking in the face of a radio.

In the past 72 hours I have listened to endless coverage of the Iowa Straw Poll. Honestly, the relevance of this exercise escapes me and based on the explanations I heard on the news channels over the weekend, there’s something about passing out tickets, corn dogs, fried butter, a rogue bus with a rogue woman who’s not a candidate, a seal tent with air conditioning and folks dropping out of a race that really shouldn’t have even started yet, as we honestly have more important things to do than to make our elected leader look bad and stupid but saying idiotic things about him when he’s just trying to sort through a mess that just keeps bigger and bigger.

And speaking of idiotic things, here are some nuggets I heard during this coverage. These paraphrased snippets are from folks that were pulling the straws:

* The United States is the oldest country and government in the history of mankind.
* It is more than apparent that Jesus Christ was a Christian and that’s why we should all be Christians.
* The democrats are evil because they don’t support trade unions.
* In Canada you have to wait six months for a chance to go to the emergency room at the hospital because of their “socialist health care”.

This is the stuff that makes me crazy. It’s the perpetuation of the babblings from the ignorant, misinformed and downright stupid. This perpetuation somehow cements it as gospel. It’s like repeating a lie over and over again, say it enough times and it’ll become the truth, because everyone, including yourself, will believe it. Kind of like telling the world you’re a straight man trying to save the world from the gay when you sit in an airport stall tapping your foot for a little lick lick from someone that’s in the same bathroom as you.

I feel it is my duty as an American to know what’s going on and to listen to the news. Last fall when I served jury duty it blew me away that I was the only one on the jury that had any inkling as to current events in our area, and we don’t even watch the local news (the local news channel doesn’t believe in sharing over the satellite systems like the rest of the country). When they were doing the jury selection they mentioned the case that was involved and the name was instantly recognizable because it’s been talked about in our local media for the past 20 years and I was the only one that had heard of it! How can people stumble through life in such a cloud of ignorance and then be trusted to make a sane decision when we elect our next leader? How is this fair?

One of the newscasts I listen to in the morning makes a point of saying how long President Obama has been in office and how many days until the next election. I believe it’s somewhere in the neighborhood of 462 days until we elect (or re-elect) our next president, and if the Iowa Straw Poll with corn dogs on a stick and suggestive pictures of consumption of such are indication, it is going to be a very long and dismal 462 days.

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