24 January 2008

A new feature for this blog....

which will probably open me up to non-interest, bickering, non-agreeance, and the possible alienation of many (any) fans...

It's time for the 2008 U.S. Presidential election!

Today's installment is actually three miniature rants designed to get a few things off my chest. Nothing more, nothing less... please feel free to contribute to the (lack of) noise if you agree or disagree.

1) Media involvement in elections.

This is really troubling, for many reasons. There have been many debates already presented in this election cycle for the candidates, but I have a couple comments about debates which have already happened.

Firstly, the Nevada debates... why was Dennis Kucinich disinvited? According to NBC, he hadn't received enough support. Well, it seems more and more clear to me that a candidate's visibility *in the press* is what dictates whether or not people will support them. Kucinich was actually invited to this debate to begin with, but NBC pulled the invite at the eleventh hour.

The one fascinating thing I find about our political process is that the support that a candidate could get can certainly influence the remaining candidates into accepting planks of their platform. Unfortunately, the way that the media is now increasingly shutting out other voices and only broadcasting one or two. I cannot quite tell if this is a cost-cutting decision, a matter of laziness, or if these mass-media outlets are deliberately trying to control the message, but it is reprehensible in all three cases considering the public is supposed to be served by these companies.

John Edwards is now running into the same issue. The Democrats do seem to have similar messages, and if Edwards had a different message that was head-and-shoulders above the other candidates, he may have a better chance to get more media time. On the other hand, it seems rather apparent that the media is following Obama and the Clintons and shutting Edwards out, despite the simliarity of all of their messages. It's a mighty shame... clearly, this man is still garnering some support, and he should still be able to broadcast his message. But because the media has decided he is not the story anymore, they've refused to cover him as extensively.

I can hear the conservatives now... "No, their job is to make money!" You're entitled to that opinion, but the FCC has also charged the media with informing the public as well... this is why they are allowed to use the public airwaves. Maybe additional, and better, coverage would be in the media's best interests too, as only through multiple voices can this country be governed best?

And don't worry, Republicans, I didn't forget you too. I remember reading in the Detroit Free Press that the editorial staff has endorsed a candidate... John McCain. That's fine, I suppose, but I wonder... does anyone else see this as a rather egregious conflict of interest? I understand that the editorial page is supposed to be separate from the news page and that the editorial page is the only place where opinions can be printed. On the other hand, if the editors are specifically backing one candidate, does that mean that the rest of the paper skews in that direction too? Would it not be better to say, "Editor Smith, from Times Tribune, endorses John McCain" so as to not encompass the whole paper with an opinion?

An unbiased and diligent media is desperately needed in this country, especially after eight years of Bush (and I could even make the argument to add eight years of Clinton plus another four of Bush I.) Unfortunately, we don't seem to have one. Check out this link to read in Kucinich's own words about his exclusion from the Nevada debates. You may scoff at some of his ideas and think that he's talking of conspiracies, but I at least feel that there is some conflict of interest going on.

Which brings us to the next point.

2) Money in Politics.

There's way too much of it. It seems that the only way that candidates get on the air is to buy time, costing a lot of money, or by accepting money from media companies and thereby becoming compromised with regards to their future actions (such as to the FCC). I know that this has been said before, but I sincerely believe that the presidential campaign (and for that matter, many other federal campaigns down to representative) should be run on a public money trust basis.

The FCC has chartered networks and broadcast television as well as radio, and is a ready governor to provide equal time to candidates. The candidates themselves should have an equal opportunity to speak their message, instead of having thousands of dollars drown out others' voices. There are extremely smart people in this world who don't have the money or access to have their words broadcast. While the Internet certainly has changed communications (for the better), this is still an old-fashioned process with regards to media and it will be for a long time to come.

Abuses with money lead me to point 3.

3) Falsehoods and Intentional Misleading.

Dammit, it's "LYING". I hate politicians for bringing the above two words into our lexicon. I rant on one specific cause, but every last candidate seems to be guilty of this.

A radio ad was released in South Carolina prior to the Democratic primary. In this ad, Barack Obama had a quote taken completely out of context and spun to say the absolute opposite of his meaning. I do not subscribe to the thought that all people are morons who readily believe the first thing that they hear, but spreading disinformation is also difficult to overcome.

A personal story; recently, while at a company function, I was taking the last donut from the box and searching for a plate to put it on. Immediately, I was jumped on by a coworker who accused me of being the person who kept leaving empty boxes around the lunchroom. It was as far from the truth as possible; I do try to keep public areas clean, especially in that situation. But because the conclusion was jumped to and the initial falsehood spread, and since it was the first message that other coworkers heard, I was labeled unfairly and had no opportunity to defend myself.

Of course, there is an opposite effect of having blatantly untrue allegations be a detriment... if people saw me as I cleaned the lunchroom, they wouldn't believe what my coworker said and would have thought (rightly so) that she was jumping to conclusions. In this day and age though, when no politician seems to be held accountable for all the campaign statements produced from their headquarters, there is very little risk to having untrue allegations boomerang back to you, and the attack ad still runs strong due to this idiocy. And unfortunately, in the court of public opinion, it is often either the loudest or the first voice which is believed rather than the true voice.

The greater point is this: the American people have been living on a steady diet of lies and falsehoods from the Bush administration. Can we please have a press which challenges our public figures to explain themselves and holds them accountable when this stuff happens instead of just blowing it off? I don't really care if a President decides that they have been looking at the wrong side of an issue one day; people grow and change, and the world at large changes too. But if they cannot have the integrity to make sure that the things they say are true, then I feel very badly for our political process.

I really don't know why I expect anything to change, but on the other hand I don't believe any ever has changed unless someone takes action or at least says something. Cynicism has its place... the front page of this blog's hosting, for instance.... but it took one voice to point out that the emperor had no clothes too.

In other news, Megane and I are in process of working on another MSTing. Hope you guys liked the last one and that you'll like the next!

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