Monday, February 27, 2006

Reforming Politics (i.e. regime change at home) - Part One

The twenty-first century is introducing new challenges to presidential selection in the United States. The rapid pace of technological advancement and its effects on human society continue to influence social dynamics on a functional level. One of the more profound conduits for technological integration is the mass media. Television, in particular, wields an underestimated power over the human psyche. Television’s ability to reach a large number of citizens in one broadcast, compounded by its operational cost, has induced unprecedented political spending by parties competing for power.

In the United States, it is no secret that money influences, to some degree, most if not all aspects of American culture. Concerns of unequal bias between the money powers and the common citizen echo throughout American history. Yet today, a disproportionate percentage of media outlets are owned and controlled by a few corporate and commercial interests. Media outlets, following the imperative of the fiscal “bottom line”, compete for viewer-ship by promoting sensationalism over objective journalism. As a consequence, the American media landscape is littered with rhetorical soundbites raped of context.

One of the many side effects of this has been the “dumbing down” of public discourse. Rarely are existentially significant issues, i.e. global population density, depletion of natural resources, climate change, etc., debated thoroughly in public media forums. Instead, partisan dogma wields the lenses of “reality”. Nevermind that both Republicans and Democrats are typically American Adult “White” Males with loving families and a steady supply of wealth. One would think it to be a wise strategy to work together to manifest and protect the ideals of the American Constitution and the society it enables. Yet, on a daily basis, Republicans and Democrats ignore their shared interests to create the reasons for opposing one another. Thus, they perpetuate a schizophrenic political cycle that sacrifices reason and stability for dogma and power.

Presidential debates are highly controlled. Ironically, although “republicans” and “democrats” maintain oppositions over many issues (i.e. abortion, government-social integration, etc.), they eagerly work together to repel third party contenders from official campaign debates. The subject matter of the debates is also controlled. A latent function of bi-partisan debate control is one of image protection for the candidates involved. A degree of censorship is, if only passively, enforced. Time constraints during the debate force quick and empty answers to questions. The Presidential candidate that survives this plush gauntlet of social accountability must be a good actor, but not necessarily a good thinker. This is yet another weakness for presidential selection in the twenty-first century.

Human civilization on Earth faces many threats from the entropic universe. Our increasing dependence on amplified energy and technology is making us vulnerable to shifts in environmental “chaos”. As global nations face new challenges in meeting the demands of human consumption, it is critical that an American democracy produces well-informed and critically minded leaders to navigate the trends of the present and future world.

The Constitutional requirements for Presidential eligibility are adequate for modern American society, certainly worth preserving, and should not be amended (i.e., allowing a “naturalized” foreign-born American to hold the office of the President). The Electoral College, as it has been influenced by President Jackson, can continue to serve its purpose in averaging out the displacement of political influence across the country (but only as long as our government is dominated by bi-partisan politics). Bi-partisan politics, however, could produce better presidential candidates by encouraging and expanding the public forums of debate.

Overall, it would be healthy for American society to embrace a broader and engagingly integrated system of political communication. A renaissance of “Socratic” political debate within community public forums could provide gateways for potential political candidates, enhance the quality of political candidates, and establish a highly competitive arena for candidate selection. Yet, this is not our reality.
America is a media saturated society. Science is slowly coming to understand the psychological and social consequences of media conditioning. The bottom line for American democracy is that the raw economic and cultural cost of the political media circus is far out-weighing the benefits of media integration.

The process of presidential selection in the twenty-first century has been weakened by the decadence of our tech-fixated culture. Future election reform needs to place its emphasis on easing the media costs of the political campaign, attracting well-informed candidates, and establishing the conditions for open and reasonable discourse. Our American democracy must produce well-informed and critically minded leadership if it is to survive the future of human civilization. Our alternative is to conform to the birth and death life cycles of history’s greatest empires.

2 Comments:

Anonymous John said...

I agree 100%. We have been missing real political debate going all the way back to the televised Kenedy-Nixon debates of 1959. What do we have to show for it: Vietnam, Watergate, terroism, Iran-contra, sex scandels, War on terror & security over freedom.

Last year I freed myself of all political parties. I am registered as an independant. The idiots on either side of the two party system do not represent me or any other american in my honest opinion.

Not that long ago I had a republican party individual call me asking for support in defeating Hillary in 2008. I blunty told her that I had ceased to be a member of the party some time ago, at which time she asked me why I had switched to the Democratic party. I told her that I had not joined them either. I told her I had thrown the yoke of the two party system off my shoulders and - she hung up on me. She actually hung up on me. I am not just another number that will vote a certain way just becuase you tell me to. I have looked into the 3rd parties but they really are not much better. They only offer an identical alternative to the system we have in place. George Washington forsaw the problems of a political party system. We did not listen. It is not to late however.

I can only foresee a change occuring in one way. If in an election after the primaries are over if both of the slecected elites face a monumental scandel before the election it would force a change. This may seem far fetched but as I look at the degrading lackluster leaders we are presented with election after election I think it is only a matter of time. On the other hand the american public will probably just ignore it when it happends. At this point I almost believe we would vote a dog into office if the media presented it with a positive spin.

9:32 PM  
Blogger sourmonkey said...

For many of the reasons you stated, I've never really identified with a specific party. The conservative Republicans are anything but, and the Democrats are just empty headed. I'm a sort of blend between Libertarian and Green, although I've often thought about starting a new party, the American party. I haven't nailed the platform yet, but the party primaries will most certainly involve heated yet rational debates, casual attire, and perhaps access to various mind-altering substances, you know, to dissolve the boundaries of those stubborn dogmatic tendencies.

9:53 PM  

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