Election times call for scrutiny

By Heather Scroering

As I scrolled through my Twitter feed following last week’s presidential debate, I began to hyperventilate. Upon seeing tweet after tweet of praise for Gov. Mitt Romney’s performance, I just couldn’t bear to read on. One tweet by BBC News reporter Katty Kay, whom I highly respect, stated that Romney seemed like a “perfectly acceptable” candidate after the debate. I looked to the floor and saw my hope for society shamefully scurrying away from me.

Unlike Kay, I felt neither candidate seemed acceptable based solely on their performance during the debate. An uncomfortable and less -than-dynamic President Barack Obama rarely looked a hyper-aggressive Romney in the eye, while Romney kept jabbing and belittling Obama as if he isn’t still the President of the United States. I felt like I was watching a belligerent bully interact with a sleepwalker whose mind was clearly more focused on his post-debate anniversary plans.

However, there was plenty more to the debate than what we saw and heard on TV. The real meat of the event, which it seems the vast majority of the public has forgotten, was in the running mates’ promises and claims. Instead of getting caught up in the candidates’ body language, we should pay more attention to the debate’s substance and do our own research. We seem to base our vote on our chosen candidate’s sound bites, or even worse, something someone told us our candidates said. The biggest problem with our society, next to voter apathy, is the lack of analysis and personal research.

Romney proudly contends that he is a supporter of “clean” coal. It’s no secret that more coal means more through mountaintop removal mining. This practice devastates the surrounding areas’ low-income families by depriving them of essential needs, such as clean water and air. Ironically, Kentucky and West Virginia, the two states most affected by mountaintop removal, are predominately red states.

And then there are Obama’s dubious claims that the last two years have seen a slower increase in health care premiums than any point in the past 50 years because of Obamacare. Studies show it wasn’t health care premiums that have gone down, but total health care spending, including co-pays and out-of-pocket expenses, which could easily be attributed to the recession. In other words, health care is not more affordable, just possibly less available. This is terrible news for low-income art students, like many at Columbia.

The election is less than a month away. We should all be sufficiently well-informed prior to the debates so we don’t have to take someone else’s word that anyone is “a perfectly acceptable” candidate. We can’t base our opinions solely on appearance, and it is essential that we do additional research in times like these to see how every aspect of a candidate’s platform will affect us. Most importantly, vote! Make the effort because you’ve got more to gain than to lose.