A (bad) visual presence
Even with the differing opinions on policy, one thing many Goshen residents agreed on was how ineffective political campaign ads are.
“They just turn me off of everything,” Martin said. “Never in all of my years have I seen such bad-mouthing about other candidates.”
“They’re just not useful,” she said. “I don’t think they change votes and the spending for ads is a waste of money.”
Hochstetler said he has also seen enough of political ads.
“Right now, they’re annoying,” Hochstetler said of political ads. “For a while, they were useful, but now they’re just annoying. They’re plain untruthful. They make the person putting it on look good, but they’re not useful.”
Goshen College adjunct political science professor Gerald Shenk said that most negative political ads are coming from super PACs, not campaigns or candidates themselves.
“People are spending millions on ads,” Shenk said. “The worst ads are at the national level, coming from the super PACs that don’t have to answer for where their funding comes from.”
The biggest issues on a national stage can be divided into two categories: a sense of security versus a sense of fear, according to Shenk.
“People find a lot to be afraid of,” Shenk said about the political races. “Security means more than no terrorists — it means food on the table, good and meaningful work, a good education.”
The Goshen community feels the impact of the national and global concerns, Shenk said.
“We see immigration, jobs and the sluggishness of the economy,” Shenk said. “It’s a serious concern for Goshen, Elkhart County and the greater northern industrial area.”
Amid all of the topics being talked about is the absence of one of the most important things, according to Shenk. No one’s talking about the potential for the middle class tax hike as of Jan. 1, when President George W. Bush-era tax cuts for the middle class expire — raising taxes on the middle class.
“We should be pressing candidates now about this,” Shenk said.
Shenk said he feels citizens today are not able to feel like their votes count as much anymore, especially in the larger stage of the presidential election. Citizens may also feel a similar way toward Congress and extreme partisanship.
“I believe we’ve all been made more aware of the national debt and the failure to balance the budget,” Shenk said. “The failure of both parties to come to an agreement is paralyzing to the recovery process. I don’t think we’re left with any ways to hold them accountable — it’s demonstrably worse in Congress now than in the past decades.”
Shenk said, however, voters may feel their votes count more in smaller races, such as those in local and state-level elections. He recommended looking hardest for unbiased information to vote on.
“It’s all in the diet of news you choose to intake,” he said. “... I suggest that voters try to find sites and sources providing an average of polls, rather than come from one side or another (to get a clear picture).”