- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Election fatigue and even election sickness now appears to be gripping the nation. Blame it on shrill news coverage, chaotic details, emotional pressures and persistent partisan discord, perhaps. Weary Americans are uneasy about election day, now 42 days off and closing in fast. Things have gotten so challenging that the medical community has noticed.

“Is the election making you sick?” asks Dr. Robert Glatter, an emergency room physician at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, and contributor to Forbes magazine.

He calls the combination of election and nonstop media attention a “life stressor” with serious physical effects. Dr. Glatter counsels voters to be alert for increased blood pressure, fluttering heartbeats, headaches, nausea and other telltale symptoms of “election-related stress” — and seek relief through less exposure to news coverage and social media. Yoga, meditation and even psychotherapy could help as well, he says.

The good doctor has a point. A Pew Research Center poll revealed that six-out-of-10 Americans said they were “exhausted” by the constant barrage of campaign coverage — and that was in July. Though voters remain interested in the election, they are tired of news about the nominees’ personal lives, back-and-forth comments and ever-changing horserace numbers. The survey also found that 55 percent think the press pays too little attention to substantial policy issues.

Election stress can take a toll, meanwhile. A new Gallup poll has a disquieting headline: “Americans less sure they’ll vote for president.” The survey found that 69 percent of the nation are sure they will vote Nov. 8, — but this is down from 76 percent in 2012 and 80 percent in 2008. The Grand Old Party may be relieved to know that Republicans are more likely to vote this year, Gallup found.



“By 76 percent to 65 percent, Republicans remain more likely than Democrats to say they will definitely vote, a gap that is similar to 2012, but higher than in previous elections,” notes analyst Lydia Saad.

THE LIBERTARIAN TAKE

“I heard Donald Trump describing a country I don’t recognize, and I heard Hillary Clinton writing checks we can’t possibly cash. I suspect a great many of the millions who watched the debate did so in the hope that they would be inspired. With the possible exception of partisans on the extremes, I also suspect they were disappointed.”

— Libertarian presidential nominee Gary Johnson, reacting to the first presidential debate Monday night.

REAGAN ON THE RADAR

Some folks are looking beyond the election, meanwhile. Some serious brass will attend the 2016 Reagan National Defense Forum, which bears the motto “Building peace through strength.” It’s scheduled for early December at the spectacular Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California. A partial list of those on board for the event:

Ashton Carter, secretary of defense; Deborah Lee James, secretary of the Air Force; Gen. David Goldfein, Air Force chief of staff; Gen. Mark Milley, Army chief of staff; Gen. Robert Neller, Marine Corps commandant; Adm. John Richardson, chief of naval operations; Adm. Michael Rogers, U.S. Cyber Command; Sens. Joni Ernst, Lindsey Graham, and Jerry Moran; and Reps. Ken Calvert, Kay Granger, Tom Graves, Michael D. Rogers, Mac Thornberry and Brad Wenstrup.

The foundation also reveals that the aforementioned Mr. Carter and former vice president Dick Cheney will receive the Peace Through Strength Award — a bronze eagle set into a black granite base, bearing the phrase “Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction,” one of Reagan’s signature mottos.

The award cites those who strengthen and support the U.S. military and national defense, and “safeguard the lives and interests of the American people.”

A DEBATE FOR THE PEOPLE

The public will have a say in the second presidential debate, a town hall-style event. The Commission on Presidential Debates has agreed it will feature questions submitted online and those from the traditional studio audience.

Things have gotten interesting, though. The feisty Open Debate Coalition — an interest group which insists debates be citizen-focused — have created a site for voters who want to submit questions, found at PresidentialOpenQuestions.com.

Founded in 2008, the organization’s very bipartisan membership includes American for Tax Reform founder Grover Norquist, Faith and Freedom Coalition founder Ralph Reed, Craigslist founder Craig Newmark and media maven Arianna Huffington. The organizations’s big news: host broadcasters ABC and CNN have agreed to consider the 30 most popular queries from their new site when plotting out the Oct. 9 debate.

“There is a mutual frustration with presidential debate questions dominated by a handful of television personalities rather than average voters,” says Mr. Norquist. “Our coalition meetings with ABC and CNN have been constructive, and we’re eager to see both candidates answer questions that are submitted and voted on by the public.”

PRESIDENTIAL TOWN HALL, CNN VERSION

Those who are still in the mood for presidential fare are in luck. On Wednesday, CNN hosts the “CNN Presidential Town Hall: America’s Military and the Commander in Chief,” to air at 9 p.m. ET.

CNN anchor Jake Tapper will sit down with President Obama for an hour to discuss veterans, national security and foreign policy issues that could influence the military.

Mr. Obama will field questions from the audience made up of veterans, active duty service members and the military community. The event is broadcast from Fort Lee, a U.S. Army post located in central Virginia and home to the Combined Arms Support Command.

POLL DU JOUR

73 percent of adult smartphone users are not interested in purchasing a smartphone that did not include a 3.5 mm headphone jack, which has been omitted in the iPhone 7.

46 percent are most interested in longer battery life for their phones; 21 percent in a shatterproof screen.

15 percent are most interested in a waterproof phone, 12 percent in “the best camera available.”

5 percent are most interested in hands-free technology.

Source: A YouGov survey of 876 U.S. adults who own smartphones conducted September 19 to 20.

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