Debates between the candidates are on TV in New York, but
neither candidate is campaigning in the state. 
Wow! Election season in America is crazy, but by crazy I mean weird crazy, not exciting crazy. I can't get over how much things have changed since I was last in the country for an election.

I've spent last six weeks in America, upstate New York to be exact. It's the first time I've been in the country during election time since 1990 and the first time for a presidential contest since 1984. {That realization has taken my breath away. I was only once of voting age and in the country for an election for President.}

A lot has changed since '84. I was a student that year and I remember the campaigning on the campus and off the campus in New York. People were pushing their candidate. I remember ads too, particularly Walter Mondale's "Where's the beef?" ad. There is none of that in upstate New York this time.

In upstate NY voters can follow the campaign, but they are not engaged in it. I saw no campaigning for President and there are virtually no television ads for either candidate. The reason for this is clear — it's because the state of New York is not a "battleground state." Let's face it, if New York is "in play" Mitt Romney has won. So neither candidate is spending money on ads in this area.

Still, it's odd that there are no ads for President. It wasn't like that in 1984. It isn't just television (or radio) ads either. There are very few yard signs or bumper stickers or anything associated with the vote for President.
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Obviously you can follow the campaign, but it's not much different than following the campaign from Ireland. In fact it is just like being in Ireland because everyone in upstate New York is watching what is happening in Ohio and Florida and Iowa and Nevada and anywhere the contest is close. In other words, they're watching what's happening elsewhere because it's not happening where they are.

Of course, people in the area can read about the campaign, follow the candidates closely (and endlessly) on cable news channels, watch the debates, etc just as you can in Ireland. But it's not really participatory democracy.

New Yorkers will vote for the candidate of their choice, but everyone knows that the vote is pretty much meaningless. I don't remember that from 1984, but again I was a student. My memory is that people in New York State were urging voters to choose one of the two candidates (Reagan or Mondale). Today neither candidate makes any effort to woo New York's voters.

Maybe the people of New York should count themselves lucky based on the political ads I have seen. They're atrocious. I didn't watch a lot of TV, but I couldn't enjoy a baseball game without being assaulted verbally and visually by ads for congressional candidates and the occasional state government candidate. The ads are loud, inane, annoying, but, most of all, insulting. They insult your intelligence. All the candidates are for "jobs" and against cutting medicare. Meaningless, childish nonsense.

Those are the positive ads. The negative ads are far worse. One ad I saw spoke about how the other guy "worked in Manhattan." Oh my! Not that! Another ad mentioned how the candidate is backed by President Obama who got campaign funds from someone who behaved a lot like ... (forbidding music) Bernie Madoff. Again, I shudder.

Actually, it's a total turn-off. I can see why so many people are alienated by politics. I can only imagine what it must be like to be living in Ohio where President Obama and Mitt Romney are spending their hundreds of millions of dollars on ads, positive and negative.

Is any of this new? I don't know, but it's new to me. If it was like this in the 70s and 80s I don't remember. Maybe because there are so many channels there are more political ads? Maybe it's the fact that I'm mostly tuning into the news or sports? Maybe it's because there is a recession and the political money is buying more ad time than it would if the economy was doing better? Maybe it's all of the above; I don't know.

What I do know is we don't get these kinds of ads on Irish television. They're not allowed. Same goes for Britain. Maybe that explains why during Irish elections the resources go on leaflets and posters and door-to-door campaigning. During an election campaign Irish people like to tell you they get fed up with political campaigners calling to the door, but that is far, far better than having to endure the constant barrage of TV ads American campaigns bring.

I would much rather have two people ring my bell every night, endure posters on the lampposts and leaflets through my door than bear the repetitive, ridiculous, repulsive television commercials. I really don't understand how you Americans put up with it.