Sunday, May 11, 2008

Post No. 5a: RESPONSE TO COOP’S COMMENT:

Coop Responded to Post 5: Your thoughts are written as if you think this is a recent problem with our political environment. I submit that it is simply politics as usual…. [See remainder of Coop’s Comment.]

My Response: You are essentially correct that some aspects of politics have not changed. However, I would submit that there are some differences which should be taken into consideration:

1. As compared to times past, we now have advanced communications technologies which permit far more citizens (numbers, regions, ages, literate, illiterate, deaf, blind, etc.) to examine the lives of the candidates, and allow a more detailed dissection.

2. Because of the same advances, and the large number of communication devices, media vehicles, and outlets available, the depth and the breadth of the examination and subsequent dissection of candidates has changed. A correlative consideration is that there are far more commentators and candidate advocates with positions which can be easily disseminated.

3. Because of the absence of technology and the limited communication vehicles available in times past, it would have been far easier for an alcoholic, philandering, profligate, immoral candidate to be elected, or possibly control or influence the news vehicles, because they were so limited. Additionally, because of the relatively slow speed of the communication, the candidate might have been able to be elected before the disqualifying character factors were thoroughly disseminated.

The issue about which I am not sure is whether the public’s tolerance of, or attitude about, the activities of candidates has changed. Are we a more judgmental nation than in the past? Are we a more polarized electorate than in the past? Are the infirmities, about which the commentators speak today, disqualifying factors as compared to the past? Just raising some issues….

1 comment:

  1. On the surface your arguments appear to hold some validity. But let’s look deeper.

    Your first point: “As compared to times past, we now have advanced communications technologies which permit far more citizens (numbers, regions, ages, literate, illiterate, deaf, blind, etc.) to examine the lives of the candidates, and allow a more detailed dissection.”

    Let’s first look at times past to compare. Before Watergate the political news was dispensed through the three networks, newspapers and radio. Coverage from these outlets was nearly 100% of those who cast votes. These media outlets held to sound journalistic rules of ethical conduct. In some cases the media withheld reports that could not be independently verified or had a significant detrimental effect on this country (not our politicians). After Watergate, everything changed. Politicians and others interested in gaining political power realized that if they could win at the “gotcha” game they could advance their cause or defeat political opponents. But this was not a result of advanced communication technologies.

    Second: “…the breadth of the examination and subsequent dissection of candidates has changed. A correlative consideration is that there are far more commentators and candidate advocates with positions which can be easily disseminated.”

    This is the advancement of the “Gotcha” game. As we see with much of the traditional mainstream media, the line between opinion and straight news reporting is all but gone. (NBC and MSNBC is a recent example – editing of President Bush’s statement to make it appear that he agreed with the interviewer, when in fact he did not). Even Newspapers like the New York Times are ethically bankrupt. It is this change ethical that has fostered the use of new communication technology to “get the word out” to constituents. This is occurring on the left and the right. (Blogs, Cable News, politically oriented books hitting top seller lists). The problem is very few of these outlets are reliable. New reality: “If a news organization is reporting on a political issue and only represents one side it is likely unreliable.” This has the effect of confusing the public, causes polarization and ultimately everyone loses.

    Last point: “Because of the absence of technology and the limited communication vehicles available in times past, it would have been far easier for an alcoholic, philandering, profligate, immoral candidate to be elected, or possibly control or influence the news vehicles, because they were so limited. Additionally, because of the relatively slow speed of the communication, the candidate might have been able to be elected before the disqualifying character factors were thoroughly disseminated.”

    This can be challenged with one name “Clinton”. Ok he wasn’t the only philandering, immoral candidate to be elected – but probably the most notorious. Governors, senators and other elected officials from both parties have shown their true colors in recent years, even with the available technology prior to their election. The vetting process has gotten much more personal and mean spirited since Watergate. Until we resurrect ethical journalism, expose blogs and websites that are dishonest and reduce the incentive for this activity, it will probably only get worse. It’s politics as usual.

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