Election 2012: Party with those who face the facts

By Buck Ryan

FACT: America employs more tax preparers (1.2 million) than law enforcement officers (765,000) and firefighters (310,400) combined, as the federal tax law grew from 400 pages in 1913 to 72,536 pages today.

So, hey, we should have a president who can fix that, right?

FACT: One in three Americans over 65 depends on Social Security to stay above the poverty line of $10,788 annually. Without it, the poverty rate among seniors would rise to 45 percent from the current 9 percent.

So, the president should be able to work with Congress to secure Social Security’s future, correct?

FACT: The military’s budget has doubled over the past decade from $343.5 billion around when Sept. 11 hit in 2001 to $695.7 billion. By comparison, we figure China ($120 billion) and Russia ($52.7 billion) are spending less.

So, as the national debt hits $16 trillion and as war fades in Iraq and Afghanistan, can’t the Pentagon take a cut?

FACT: Not sure people really care about facts. But if you do, please join us at:

Constitution Day at UK 2012 at 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday, Sept. 17 on the north lawn of the Main Building at the University of Kentucky.

That’s where we will engage first-time voters in the U.S. presidential election in a lively discussion of Article II of the U.S. Constitution. (You know, the Constitution has seven articles and the second one deals with the president, right?)

The eighth-annual Constitution Day at UK is being organized by my Honors Program class, “Citizen Kentucky: Journalism and Democracy,” which is engaged in a research project on key determinants for young voters in coming to public judgment about which candidate they support for president.

As a founding father of Constitution Day at UK who has embraced this research project over many years, focusing on races ranging from governor to U.S. Senate, I am displeased to report to you my findings:

For young voters, party affiliation and news coverage are not key determinants. I repeat, not. Whoa, Aunt Nellie, got your attention now, I hope.

So if we want young voters to face the facts, then we need more creative outlets like Constitution Day, where we will distribute a voter guide. This year we will partner with UK’s “Year of Russia” initiative by inviting Russian journalist and professor Oksana Silantieva to reflect on how the U.S. presidential election is being portrayed in her country.

She’ll also give us a glimpse of life without a U.S. Constitution when punk rockers get prison time for protesting the power of the church and leader Vladimir Putin.

As you might suspect from my opening, we’ll embrace a project by journalist-turned-prof Frank Sesno (FacetheFactsUSA.org).  If you sign up, Sesno’s team can deliver you a fact a day by email.

We can compare notes at UK on Monday or 225 years to the day the final draft of the Constitution was signed.  And that’s a fact.

Buck Ryan, director of the Citizen Kentucky Project of UK’s Scripps Howard First Amendment Center, can be reached at [email protected]