Anger Ball Ryan or Election Season in Kansas

So I may just be an anger ball (and yes, that is a direct reference to the 1998 Playing by Heart, a fantastic movie that no one seemed to have watched). Just thought I would throw that out there before I went much further. There is a chance that things in this blog may upset people, so I decided it would be best to ameliorate my writing with pretty pictures of Kansas.

For an example, here are some cute, cuddly prairie dogs:

Prairie Dog I

And another lone guy contemplating life:

Prairie Dog 2

Those who know me well know one of top favorite topics to discuss is politics. Things are so exciting in Kansas right now with not just one but several races. For once in a long time, no one is really for sure how Election Day will go, and yep, that is what is feeding this not-so-cuddly anger ball. Here are the top five things currently fueling my wrath.

  1. I Hate Being Wrong

I really do like defying stereotypes when I can by simply being myself. There are, though, some male stereotypical behaviors that are very much part of my core. For starters, if I am sick, be prepared for me to go on about how it is the end of the world and I have the bubonic plague. Also, not asking for directions – yep another one of my flaws. Furthermore, as friends, family, and complete strangers have found out, if you tell me problems, my Life Coach Hat comes on and you are going to hear my solutions to your problems rather than words like “Oh, I am so sorry . . . That’s really bad . . . Yep, you should continue this ‘woe is me’ attitude.” Last but not least, I hate being wrong.

The good thing, though, is when it hits me I am wrong, I will easily admit it. Well, back in February, I wrote this blog post about Kansas House Bill 2453. Remember that bill? What? You don’t? Yep, that just made anger rumble.

Let me refresh your memory. It is the bill that made both the Westboro Baptist Church and Pastafarians salivate. Here is part of the bill itself:

No individual or religious entity shall be required by any governmental entity to do any of the following, if it would be contrary to the sincerely held religious beliefs of the individual or religious entity regarding sex or gender:

Provide any services, accommodations, advantages, facilities, goods, or privileges; provide counseling, adoption, foster care and other social services; or provide employment or employment benefits, related to, or related to the celebration of, any marriage, domestic partnership, civil union or similar arrangement.

Yep, it is that bill that had so many people across the Sunflower State irate. They were furious that their elected officials would create something so hateful directed towards their LGBT friends, family, nice neighbors, friendly church-going acquaintances, classmates, co-workers, etc. Plus, there was the common sense that people like the Westboro Baptist Church would have a field day with legislation like that.

This passion seemed to have found its way into the hearts of so many. Blogs were written and virally spread. Facebook posts and tweets were on fire. People were ready to voice their opinions with their politicians (actually, most seemed to just one to vote them out of office). But what happened to these people? I thought perhaps they just managed to fall asleep on the day of the Primary where only 20% showed up to the polls, the lowest amount since 2006.

Where were all of these people who were going on about not only HB 2453 but so many other issues that they seemed to have suddenly have seen? I don’t know, but their disappearance has proved me to be wrong. There was this faith I had where something bad like HB 2453 would lead to something good like more people paying attention to politics; however, the Primary proved me I was dead wrong.

Now the General Education may just prove I was an idiot to have such an optimistic faith in others unless, of course, those others wake up and get to the polls.

Time for a picture! How about a beautiful Kansas road and some of that great Kansas blue sky?

IMG_7596

  1. The Campaign TV Commercials, Radio Ads, Mailings, Robotic Phone Calls, etc.

So my TV has been unplugged since my hiking trip this last summer. While no cable is hooked up in my house, there is an antenna hanging on my wall despite its proper place probably should be on my roof. It is great though, and it does get me 12 channels on a good day that, well, I don’t really watch. However, from so many other people who actually have plugged-in televisions tell me, the commercials are non-stop for the political races. Thanks to the nature of what is going on in a typically seen Red State, tons of money has been poured into Kansas from all over. Primarily, it is from one party it seems.

While the TV ads have been missed, the radio ads, mailings, and robotic calls have not. The last one really irritates me because I really want to carry on a conversation rather than just be told what to believe in often a condescending tone. Seriously, where is the chance to use my critical thinking skills?

And that is exactly the problem that makes me angry with this one – people are not using their critical thinking skills. On Facebook the other day, I saw someone post something that said, “’Let me watch another political commercial before I make my decision on how to vote,’ said no one ever.” Well guess what, Facebook post, you are wrong. The majority of the time the politician who spends the most money wins the election. There are some exceptions of course, but the majority of the time these ads actually work. People are seriously swayed by these biased forms of campaign material and they don’t automatically know they are not good sources to go to.

Seriously, think what would happen if people actually used their critical thinking skills and rejected these forms of campaign material. Yep, you got it – they would be gone. An estimated $6 billion was spent in 2012 on campaign ads. Think what we could have done with that money. Think of the people in poverty who could have been helped, the public places which are enjoyed by all that could have been improved, the debts that could have been paid, the non-profits that could have thrived, the education system that could have been strengthened, the literacy issues that could have been battled, the critical thinking skills that could have been grown. But nope. None of that happened. And the candidates who spent the majority of the money largely won.

Let’s imagine a future here. I would love to believe people would just stop donating to politicians and instead donate it to worthy causes, but that isn’t going to happen. So what if candidates raised money for their campaigns and rather than produces these ads of almost pure vitriol that do more damage than good with causing people to throw up their hands and further divide the country into distinct parties that don’t collaborate, the candidates used that money to see who could do the most good with it. Then newspapers and stations could look at these things through a lens of good rather than contempt to report on them. At least the money then would be spent in those districts and something great could come from it rather than what is happening with it now.

So come on, Kansans – start a wave of using critical thinking skills and help everyone make these ads extinct.

Picture time: Aren’t sunflowers just pretty?

IMG_0032

  1. Lines like “But I don’t know enough about the campaign to vote so I am just not going to vote.”

Several weeks ago, I was talking to someone about the upcoming election, and that person said, “I am just not going to vote because I just don’t know enough about the people running to make an informed decision.” Although there was an attempt to keep it well-hidden, this look of disgust immediately fell upon my face as I simply started asking questions.

            “What day is this?”

            “October 3.”

            “When is the election?”

            “Sometime in November.”

            Sigh. “November 4. What year is this?”

            “2014.”

            “If only there was this newfangled technology that would allow you to be able to research candidates between now and then. Oh wait – what is that thing called that lets you find out anything at the touch of a few buttons? Oh that’s right, the Internet.”

Believe it or not, this person still talks to me and overall enjoys my company (I think).

Okay, I know I just attacked the campaign ads as a source of information, and I am still standing by that. However, there are so many great places to turn for information. Sure, news stations and papers can be biased (thanks Fox News and MSNBC for making most see this is the case), but a crazy concept is to read as much as you can from different sides to help make an informed decision. Then there are the debates and Town Hall meetings. What? You couldn’t make it to them? Crazy enough, there are often videos online of them.

Then there are great sites like Project Vote Smart. If you are not sure if a source can be trusted, just look it up on Wikipedia and see what controversy is behind it. Another question you say? Using Wikipedia is a source is a bad thing to do because it can easily be changed? Nonsense, my friends. Entries about things greatly contested tend to have a lot of safeguards placed in the system so some mad Tea Partier or liberal cannot just go in and say the candidate they oppose actually follows Jonathan Swift’s A Modest Proposal as a go-to recipe book.

My students always call me out for saying Wikipedia is a good place to start to check on information, but that, of course, leads to my discussion about how Wikipedia should not be used in an academic paper because it is an encyclopedia. Long before Wikipedia existed, general encyclopedias were to be avoided as sources. It is always best to jump to the news, magazine, and journal articles as well as scholarly studies/reports. Thankfully a good Wikipedia entry has those listed in its works cited section.

So there is still timed to be an informed voter, and every time I hear this lame excuse, the anger ball just gets larger.

And a picture of one of my all-time favorite places in Kansas: Coronado Heights

IMG_7608

  1. Lines like “Well, I haven’t registered to vote yet, and I don’t know where to register.”

This dumbfounds me. I grew up with a mother who very much reminded me of the importance of voting. She grew up with a father who was a veteran who fought bravely for our country. To my knowledge, he did not miss an election. The same goes for my mother, and the same goes for me. Even when I was living in Australia, I voted in the mid-term election of 2006. Therefore, not to register the moment one turns 18 is beyond my comprehension. Plus, it is one of our duties as a citizen of the United States.

Therefore, anyone reading this who has not registered yet, just go register. You may not be able to vote in this highly important election coming up in November that will greatly alter your life in ways none of us currently know. You will, though, at least get to vote in future elections. Plus, when you register, keep the Kansas primary system in mind. That is highly important too. Furthermore, you get a nifty sticker after you voted, and who doesn’t love stickers?

And as far as where does one go to register to vote, once again that handy thing called the Internet will show you that you have tons of places.

And now for a picture of a walking/biking trail:

The Vitality Trail

  1. Ebola*

Ebola is a scary thing. There is not doubt about that. However, it is not a scary thing in the United States. If you want to be frightened about catching something, here are six other things to worry about. Best not to click on that link if you are a hypochondriac.

Plus, check out this video comparing American reports about Ebola with British reports about Ebola:

However, Ebola is the talk of the state right now. People are worried, and there are so many other things that should be on their mind. For an example, they could focus on the election instead which, and I am hoping I won’t be wrong about this, will have much more of an impact on their lives than Ebola will.

The reason for the * is that this stands for whatever topic the news seems to have picked up and is focusing on rather than what really should be discussed. Come on, newspapers and news stations, no more fear mongering for you! That is just causing things to be worse than they should be.

However, candidates are playing upon these fears with one even signing an Ebola travel ban bill. Yep, the distractions from what is important are causing people to fall right into this sort of situation. Needless to say, this goes back to using one’s critical thinking skills and not being caught up in hysteria but rather being caught up in one of the many issues that really needs to be faced.

So there you go. Just some of the reasons that have led to my being an anger ball. And if you like the pictures of Kansas, that is great, for all of those images are of things that could be affected after this election through legislation and decisions made by our elected officials. But then again, that can be said for pretty much everything else in your life as well. Without a doubt, help spread the word about the importance of this election, do your research, and vote for the candidate who best fits your beliefs that were based upon your great critical thinking skills. This way you can wear that sticker with pride (This also means don’t be one of those idiots that just votes for a person because of a letter for a certain party behind his/her name. People who do this also make me an anger ball. So instead of making me even more angry, know why you are voting for that person and what that person stands for.)

Extra Credit Anger-Ball-Making Line: “I am just not going to vote because I don’t like any of the candidates.”

If this is the case, then make sure these people don’t get beyond the primary. If they do, go vote but simply leave your ballot blank. That is a way you can make a statement. Just skipping going to the polls makes no statement at all because the people on the ballot still get elected and still make decisions that will affect your life. Plus, if you really don’t like who is running for the positions, make sure you get someone whom you think would be a great elected official to run next time or run yourself.

And now for the serenity of a Kansas Sunset:

Kansas Sunset

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