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U.S. Politics

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Bala Verde said:
Europe doesn't have one electoral system, every country has its own, some more akin to the us system, and others entirely different. In all of them, racism manifests itself.

Le penn was second in a run off a couple of years ago, precisely because of its non proportional nature. When the 'liberals' split the vote, the second best candidate was le penn, who had at that time been polling steady at around 15-17% I believe. So on the one hand, the system allowed him to continue in a best of two run off, but the system would also deny him overall victory because he seems to max out at a 'mere 17%' (which is still frightening given what he sais...). So despite and because of the French system does le penn matter.

The electoral system in the uk also seems to prevent the bnp from becoming a player at all in uk politics, because only 2, and since recently 3 parties matter.

In the Netherlands, proportional representation has led to a fascist populist to become semi-part of the ruling coalition, because the electoral system fragments the vote into multiple parties, who ultimately have to forge a working coalition. Nonetheless, all votes count, but you never know with what coalition you end up. In Germany, they prevent over-fragmentation, like what happens in Israel and the Netherlands for example, by forcing parties to pass 5% of vote threshold, so that not all votes will translate into parliamentary seats, while still allowing for a high degree of proportional representation.

I don't know which system is better, I am only most familiar with the Dutch system. It is also hard to say which system is better, given the entirely different set of countries, cultures, histories and problems. Can the dutch system even work in a contry as large as the u.s.? I also doubt there is more racism in France, or the Netherlands than in the us, but it seems the electoral systems may hide or channel country specific racisms differently. Le penn run offs, pvv party in the Netherlands (islamophobia), but perhaps a hidden type of racism in the two dominating parties in the US (nativism).

It also seems unlikely in the us, that they will ever sacrifice the current, highly individual and districtconnected system in favour of more party based systems with less focus on the parties' composition of individuals... Few of them are actually chosen individually, they are in parliament because they were placed on a party list, and the party won x% of the vote. The former seems to lead to a better, closer relation between constiituent and lawmaker, whereas the latter seems to forge more coherent policy platforms.

Although the u.s. Caucus states show a resemblance with Dutch party conferences where party members (people who are donating members to a national party, I.e. who chose to affiliate themselves with a party, as opposed to merely showing up for the vote) come together annually to have a dialogue about the party leadership, the party members who are listed for elections and the policy path forward. Attending members go to a conference and get 30s speaking time, which they can use I individually, or contribute to someone who they think is closely aligned with their own position. So one person can then speak for 10 minutes if he has 20 supporters at party conference, to make his point. Not all parties work like that, and I doubt the pvv party of wilders, who tightly controls the message operates like that.
Le Pen never had a real shot at the presidency, you are right. But he has for example, or his party rather, won mayoral elections in Toulouse.

The BNP has gotten seats for the european parliament here (which uses different voting to the general elections).

My point was not that extremist parties would challenge for the presidency but rather that if you break the 2 party system they would form and when they form, just like the National Front challenges for mayoral elections in Toulouse, you might get them challenging for congressional elections, mayoral ones etc.

The Bnp gets high % in Barking which is a central London constituency, where its leader stood for election. People I play football with feel no shame in telling me they have voted for the BNP.

And if thats Britain and France, what can we expect from the American South?
 
The Hitch said:
All that sounds so nice.

But you should not forget the national parties like BNP or National Front.

Lots of you guys always fantasize about how enlightened Western Europe is compared to the backward United States of America, full of hillbillies rednecks and other nutty types.

Well if an openly racist party with a 80 year old holocaust denier as its leader can come 2nd in the French Presidential Election just a few years ago, what chance does America have. How long before these type of parties start to emerge and seriously contest local, congressional, hell even maybe gubernatorial elections in some rural areas of states like Kentucky, Alabama etc.
I wanted to comment too on these points in a general sense.

These xenophobic and racist parties in Europe reside among the radical right.

In times such as these with an arduous economy and, in addition, lots of immigration that places the fatherland's "identity" at risk, such extremist factions tend to emerge with greater force. But they are also the products of a system in Europe for which a broad spectrum of ideologies and positions find legitimate expression within the multi-party political universe of Continental democracy as you know. In the worst recent cases, as in Holland, but also, as we have seen, in Italy with the Northern League keeping the Berlusconi government together for as long as it did, they become an integral element, veritable lynch pin, in the parliamentary system - though usually are too radical to have their most reprehensible initiatives enacted. So they become cases of you can't live with or without them for the center right in terms of governability. The targets of their animosity, at times resulting in violence and terrorism, are thus against minorities and that considerable part of mass society that is open and tolerant and, as such, considered as hated liberals (not in the economic sense).

By contrast, in the US such radicals have become "absorbed" within the mainstream right wing establishment itself, not having an independent forum within which to broadcast themselves alone as an alternative. It is much harder, therefore, to distinguish them independently and where they have real influence. This is reason why the Republican Party counts among its membership all the conservative religious and nationalist loonies that it does. If these people where in Europe they'd have their own, separate, right wing political representation. They see as threatening a modern mass society that's to them morally degenerate, has a progressive agenda in the form of civil rights and multiculturalism and is largely secular in worldview, etc. just as in liberal Europe. Consequently, if America were to one day become a multi-party system like Europe, you in theory would get the same type of coalitions being formed in Washington politics while gaining power in holding regional offices as you hypothesize.

I'd welcome this, because that way Americans would be able to identify readily just where the extremist elements lie and how broad and popular is their support base, rather than only being able to perceive such things through sifting them out within the republican party at large. In other words more labels gives us a clearer picture of society’s moods and tendencies. I also think that while it’s true that Europe has some issues with political extremism today, especially in the Hungarian case, there isn't a real modern mass left wing in the US (rooted in a secular and socially progressive ideology, both anti-fascist and anti-obscurantist), which makes the threat of some form of a democratically masked fascism holding power very real in the country. We already got a taste of this under Bush and the neocons, or before during the McCarthy-Hoover years.

I didn't mention leftist radicalism, because such extremism basically had the wind taken from its sails when the US lead West saw capitalism triumph over Soviet communism after the fall of the Berlin Wall, when, it was said, Europe entered into a new "post-ideological" era. In several obvious respects this was a welcome beginning, though it has led to a general debilitation of the left establishment as the historical and ideological defender of society in terms of the working classes and the weakest members. In any case the targets of so called red terrorism in Europe were specific individuals, finacialists, economists, politicians etc., not mass society and not for xenophobic or racist reasons on the right. The perpetrators were usually very bright and well read, if also very misguided, idealists; who wanted to change the world by striking at those in power they believed to have been responsible for society's repression; and so thought of themselves as defenders of freedom and as fighters against a tyranny caused by a corrupt and unjust economic system and the leadership that sustains it.

But these elements hardly exist anymore today, or at least not the way they used to back in the 70’s and 80’s for the reason I mentioned, just as they had never really, but with a few rare exceptions, made much of an impact within a rather mitigated US left: probably because there never was any real alternative to capitalism and a liberal economy in the country and because the Cold War polarized everything, crushing any such tendencies in the nation's worldview and identity, which were not to be tolerated. Thus, in the end, the US nation having essentially always been a monolithic market and economically liberal entity- as well as being an island unto itself without a sharp glance around the world by the mass society - means that it is lacking in a real critical spirit. This imo explains the very poor quality of political representation that the populist right wing offers today, as well why the democrats are so ineffective and have become so totally obsolete as a leftist party. This is a glaring example of why the entire political and electoral system is in dire need of radical reform.

As to the hillbillies, rednecks and loonies in the country, of course every country has them, but not every state has the role and impact of the USA, nor counts itself as the world's first nation as America does. They consequently have a greater fame (or infamy) and simply lend themselves over to satire and derision, even from within.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nLRQvK2-iqQ

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vVf6xUXiWKI&feature=related
 
Sep 10, 2009
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The Hitch said:
All that sounds so nice.

But you should not forget the national parties like BNP or National Front.

Lots of you guys always fantasize about how enlightened Western Europe is compared to the backward United States of America, full of hillbillies rednecks and other nutty types.

Well if an openly racist party with a 80 year old holocaust denier as its leader can come 2nd in the French Presidential Election just a few years ago, what chance does America have. How long before these type of parties start to emerge and seriously contest local, congressional, hell even maybe gubernatorial elections in some rural areas of states like Kentucky, Alabama etc.
I'd argue the opposite - it's more likely that the loony fringe gains power in a two-party system than it is in a multiparty one. All that has to happen is for an activist, outraged vocal minority to essentially hijack one of the parties - which is pretty much what has happened to the Republicans, where even a relative moderate like Romney has to pander to the lunatic fringe to have even a hope of being nominated. And though it hasn't yet, it could equally happen to the Democrats, too. In our system, the loony fringe, left and right, has nowhere else to go - there's no real political safety valves to siphon them off.
 
VeloCity said:
I'd argue the opposite - it's more likely that the loony fringe gains power in a two-party system than it is in a multiparty one. All that has to happen is for an activist, outraged vocal minority to essentially hijack one of the parties - which is pretty much what has happened to the Republicans, where even a relative moderate like Romney has to pander to the lunatic fringe to have even a hope of being nominated. And though it hasn't yet, it could equally happen to the Democrats, too. In our system, the loony fringe, left and right, has nowhere else to go - there's no real political safety valves to siphon them off.
The democrats were hijacked by lunatic fringes for about a century, up until maybe the 70's.

See for example George Wallace.

I dont see how lunatics can hijack the republicans. Not at a presidential level as you seem to suggest.

The establishment, the wealthy business friends of the Gop, the republicans that live in the cities and in the North East and in the West and those in Washington, will keep the party away from the fringe.

More importantly if you want power you need around 50% of the vote. It keeps lunatics from getting it. It keeps tongues tied and people from stirring up trouble.

If you only needed 25% of the vote to win an election because 10 other parties were taking up their share, theres no moderation, you only need to pander to a very small minority, and hell, people who are passionate about these things are more likely to vote anyway.

What was that about 10% thinking Obama is a Muslim? Well I see a potential successful political party right there.
 
Mar 18, 2009
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The Hitch said:
The democrats were hijacked by lunatic fringes for about a century, up until maybe the 70's.

See for example George Wallace.

I dont see how lunatics can hijack the republicans. Not at a presidential level as you seem to suggest.

The establishment, the wealthy business friends of the Gop, the republicans that live in the cities and in the North East and in the West and those in Washington, will keep the party away from the fringe.

More importantly if you want power you need around 50% of the vote. It keeps lunatics from getting it. It keeps tongues tied and people from stirring up trouble.

If you only needed 25% of the vote to win an election because 10 other parties were taking up their share, theres no moderation, you only need to pander to a very small minority, and hell, people who are passionate about these things are more likely to vote anyway.

What was that about 10% thinking Obama is a Muslim? Well I see a potential successful political party right there.
While either party's candidate has to occupy the center, they also have to be able to draw in the passionate people on the fringes too. W was in the center, but the evangelicals loved him. Obama won in 08 by occupying the center but convincing the progressives that because of his rhetoric and skin color he was further to the left than he had any intention of being. It'll be interesting to see what happens in a Romney/Obama contest. Romney is just another weak moderate from Massachusetts, like Dukakis and Kerry, and he won't energize his base, except for the many Republican who hate Obama and will vote for anyone who isn't him. Obama has lost much of his support, but not all of it. I foresee a very tepid turnout.
 
The Hitch said:
The democrats were hijacked by lunatic fringes for about a century, up until maybe the 70's.

See for example George Wallace.

I dont see how lunatics can hijack the republicans. Not at a presidential level as you seem to suggest.

The establishment, the wealthy business friends of the Gop, the republicans that live in the cities and in the North East and in the West and those in Washington, will keep the party away from the fringe.

More importantly if you want power you need around 50% of the vote. It keeps lunatics from getting it. It keeps tongues tied and people from stirring up trouble.

If you only needed 25% of the vote to win an election because 10 other parties were taking up their share, theres no moderation, you only need to pander to a very small minority, and hell, people who are passionate about these things are more likely to vote anyway.

What was that about 10% thinking Obama is a Muslim? Well I see a potential successful political party right there.
Wallace was clearly an example of how the southern US political identity as being historically democratic at the time, was merely in opposition to a republican party that was largely associated with the blue blood, northern yankee "wasps" and industry tyvoons, but that all changed with civil rights.

The democratic party up north was afterward seen as having betrayed its southern racist constituency and the idea of democrats and republicans in the deep, rural south began to change along with it.
 
Wallace said:
While either party's candidate has to occupy the center, they also have to be able to draw in the passionate people on the fringes too. W was in the center, but the evangelicals loved him. Obama won in 08 by occupying the center but convincing the progressives that because of his rhetoric and skin color he was further to the left than he had any intention of being. It'll be interesting to see what happens in a Romney/Obama contest. Romney is just another weak moderate from Massachusetts, like Dukakis and Kerry, and he won't energize his base, except for the many Republican who hate Obama and will vote for anyone who isn't him. Obama has lost much of his support, but not all of it. I foresee a very tepid turnout.
I mostly agree with your post.

But ill contest the point that Obama was wrongly seen as left Wing. He was seen as more on the left not just because of his skin colour but also because of his Harvard days, his Chicago political background, his friendship with the weatherman, his crackjob church.
He had also written some paper about communism before (I think I read somewhere).

He had a far more left wing background than any nominated (by GOP or Dems) candidate in history probably.

The problem was, that Obama was always a politico. It was the claims around the media and the world that Obama was above politics that disillusioned me from the man beyond repair.

Like any succesful politician, Obama (and this could also have been seen on his record, especially with those 130 or so undecided votes in the Illinois senate) has more care for being elected than for change (ironically his slogan).

Which is why Obamas left wing background didn't matter, but I think it was very much there and not imagined.

rhubroma said:
Wallace was clearly an example of how the southern US political identity as being historically democratic at the time, was merely in opposition to a republican party that was largely associated with the blue blood, northern yankee "wasps," but that all changed with civil rights.
Which was my point. Velocity said that Democrats hadnt yet had to pander to the fringe, but they have, far more than the GOP, even if you have to go back 50 years to find it;)

The democratic party up north was afterward seen as having betrayed its southern racist constituency and the idea of democrats and republicans in the deep south began to change along with it
Took a while though. Carter carried the South. Both Reagan and Bush lost West Virginia in landslide wins. Clinton carried the South easily in both 92 and 96 and Gore did surprisingly well in both the Florida Panhandle and his home state of Tennessee.

2008 election with Missouri (which had gone for the winner just about every time for a century) going for Mccain, represents the final change.
 
Thoughtforfood said:
...Look at the supposed anti-union or anti-corporation bills and notice that they are all watered down bull**** full of concessions, loopholes, and hidden provisions that...
Ever read an actual bill? Not word for word, but more than skim it. It's alarming how accurate you are. I read the energy bill from I believe two years ago. You couldn't tell if it was written by Republicans or Democrats or who was for or against i. You'd have no clue. But you could tell it had been tinkered and tampered with by various industry and interest groups. It's as if they had written the bill themselves, and staffers on Congress sewed it together before passing it. It was insanity.
Scott SoCal said:
So I predict the Republican party will fracture between the inside the beltway repub establishment and the more right wing TP, probably within the next two or three election cycles.
I can somewhat see the same happening in the Democratic party. A schism between the established (Obama, Clinton, etc) and the true classic liberals.

The thing is, these people have nowhere to go. They will most likely end up simply leaving the party and registering as independents, more than trying to form a viable third party. If you look at the benefits and control the two parties have, it's almost impossible for someone to start a viable third party. Will all the fervor and Ross Perot's $, the Reform Party never got much traction, and it too was quickly compromised.

My suggestion is to simply remove party affiliation, or at the very least, make every election an open. As Jesse Ventura has quipped, we live in a two-party dictatorship.
 
The Hitch said:
...

Took a while though. Carter carried the South. Both Reagan and Bush lost West Virginia in landslide wins. Clinton carried the South easily in both 92 and 96 and Gore did surprisingly well in both the Florida Panhandle and his home state of Tennessee.

2008 election with Missouri (which had gone for the winner just about every time for a century) going for Mccain, represents the final change.
Which is why I specified began to change. ;)

West Virginia isn't exactly the deep south. Carter was a good ol'boy from the south, while Clinton was from Arkansas, which, while being midwestern, has more affinities with Alabama than say Connecticut.

The fact is that before civil rights the republican party was an almost non-entity in the deep, rural south, whereas after blacks got their rights the old dichotomy began to evolve.

All of this is somewhat mute, though, when one considers that the country was vastly different prior to civil rights than afterward, when being openly racist and a southern democrat was normal: also given that politics was exclusively reserved for whites. Even though this evolution is still an ongoing process. If the democrats thought of a Wallace back then as a "radical" up north, he was perhaps viewed as less on the fringe as he would be today, given that an entire part of the country was couched within certain state of mind (and probably still is more or less). To a certain extent, historically and by tradition in a country that was basically racist throughout, the south was democratic simply because the republican party was the "yankee" one, under whose leadership the North won the war and slavery was abolished by the 13th Amendment.

In regards to your last statement, it would indeed appear to be the case.
 
Mar 18, 2009
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To add to the discussion: along with the Civil Rights Act (which LBJ famously said would make the Democratic party lose the South for 50 years), the other factor that drove large blocks of working class whites--particularly the previously unified pro-union, working class Catholics, and then the protestants slightly later--away from the Democratic party was Roe V. Wade. It's hard to over-emphasize how much this court decision altered the political landscape.
 
I also think a big turning point was Reagan's famous words that "Government is the problem". That phrase has been extrapolated to mean so many things to so many people, but certainly had a huge impact on the way anyone "right of center" (for lack of a better definition) thought and acted.
 
May 13, 2009
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hfer07 said:
Just watched the Republican debate in NH.....

For a so called "business-orientated" candidate like Romney to say he would go to a "trade war" with China is just stupid.....
I watched a bit as well. So Paul essentially called Gingrich a chicken hawk. He also drew a very nice contrast with Santorum. I have to say Paul is growing on me. When he talks he seems like a nice and sweet person, but boy, he's not holding anything back ... and then he reloads.

Gingrich looked deflated when Paul talked about his deferments and drafts. And Santorum was pretty exasperated at times.

Perry, Gingrich and Santorum have to consolidate voters among themselves (meaning two of them have to drop out ASAP), otherwise the nomination will be over after SC. Perry might do the right thing, but Santorum feels he has the momentum, so he won't drop out, and Gingrich has too big an ego and neither any common sense nor the will to sacrifice for a common good.
 
Cobblestones said:
I watched a bit as well. So Paul essentially called Gingrich a chicken hawk. He also drew a very nice contrast with Santorum. I have to say Paul is growing on me. When he talks he seems like a nice and sweet person, but boy, he's not holding anything back ... and then he reloads.

Gingrich looked deflated when Paul talked about his deferments and drafts. And Santorum was pretty exasperated at times.

Perry, Gingrich and Santorum have to consolidate voters among themselves (meaning two of them have to drop out ASAP), otherwise the nomination will be over after SC. Perry might do the right thing, but Santorum feels he has the momentum, so he won't drop out, and Gingrich has too big an ego and neither any common sense nor the will to sacrifice for a common good.

IMPOV I did like Ron Paul & Jon Huntsman-they did have a better clarity on their answers, whereas the rest were trying to "test the waters" but not "jump in" to a full exchange with Romney-which I believe at this point has built a good buffer to consolidated his position. Santorum has some momentum going as well, but it seems to me he lacks that charisma to get him ahead, and Gringrich-having good ideas and perceptive-specially international affairs-cannot make up for the mistakes he makes that polarize his image unnecessarily further......
 
I agree with you both. I think Paul did very well. He has some kooky ideas and cult like followers, but he was very clear tonight when pushed, and he definitely got the better end of the exchange with Newt. He looked very confident, when Newt didn't look comfortable at all trying to spin it.

Santorum didn't look that comfortable either with some answers. This is the time he needs to really step up, and make it a race between he and Mitt, letting Paul mop up the libertarians. But I don't think he has it in him. Romney took it easy today, but he will dominate NH, and if he wins SC by more than a sliver he may have unstoppable momentum.

Huntsman did look good, but he is running for the future (Secretary of State, VP - either of which he'd excel at, or President in 2016).
 
Mar 10, 2009
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First time I actually tried to follow a 'real primary' debate.

Ouch, how painful.

First of all, with this format, you can hardly call it a debate. I heard monologues between mostly contributors who are asked to answer a complicated questions in 1 minute. In the first round, they asked huntsman about democratic responses to Rodney's job creation record. Wait, what, you are asking huntsman basically to answer to political strategies from opponents, against NOT himself.

This format only stimulates one liners, visuals of candidates mentally flicking through flash cards they memorized, and stupid bickering (you are a chicken hawk, no i am not, yes you are, no, you are). Wow that'll get the economy going. Or ask other gossip quality questions.

Give candidates 5 minutes to make a point and, during the answer hold them to account. Seriously, everyone knows that CREW lists corrupt dems and republicans, so intervene when santscrotum lies. Or when Romney starts blabbing about his 'economic plan' and mentions vaguaries such as lower taxes and getting people to work again. Yes mitt. How specifically. What concrete policies do you have to offer, besides loving the amber waves of corn. Or that you want to reform the tax code, by reducing corporate taxes but leaving capital gains taxes intact. To what levels and why. And what 'loopholes' would you close, and how. Or in what ways would your Iran policy be different, in details, not that you are 'going to be tougher'... As in, how?

Once you get specifics, you can follow up with other candidates and have them scrutinize those details. Otherwise one flag waving patriot responds to banal cliches in kind with more flag waving and America the greatest mythology.

Also stepanopupopuloppodopolis, don't try to be funny. When you ask a question about one of the many landmark cases, in this case griswold v CT, just lay out the basics of the case, so someone can formulate an answer, as opposed to hoping he or she doesn't know the case in detail, and, afraid of saying something stupid, then refuses to answer the question. Within 3 seconds the, still interesting question about the reach of government and the right to privacy, the case turned into universal appeals to overturn roe v. Wade. Also, when talking about the right to life, why not follow up and ask them about the death penalty and drone bombing us citizens...

Point out inconsistencies throughout the debate. Sanskrit says there are no classes in the us and 3 seconds later he talks about blue collar workers. What does blue collar stand for? The color of their favorite Christmas decoration kit? Or their are no hierarchies in the us, but there is a war against Christians being fought. Or how exactly are Christian's rights being violated when gays can get married exactly. Saying it is one thing, but bringing that to a logical conclusion is another. Press them on the issue, when Gingrich says that equal rights for gay individuals infringes the religious rights of other individuals... Like sanatorium who thinks that equal rights for gays is the same as allowing everyone commit polygamy; that's analogous to arguing that equal rights for Afro Americans is the same as adding a totally unrelated right to the existing body of rights for everyone, for example, if Afro Americans can sit in front of the bus, then why not allow everyone to have a right to a pink space shuttle and three flights to the moon per year. Then contending that the latter is ludicrous, hence the former must be too.

Did anyone find that Romney got much more speaking time? Perry was invisible, Paul at times appeared a little grumpy, had some good answers demonstrating constitutional knowledge and drawing a contrast (commerce clause and contraception answer was interesting, and his firm believe in the right to privacy), huntsman answered actual questions and did not shy away from taking positions (Simpson Bowles plan, you are wrong on china, and I would pull troops from Afghanistan in 2013, leaving only a 10k residual force for intel... As opposed the 100k you have stationed there now.) sanctimonious was present, but inconsequential. I can't remember anything that could have impressed people. Romney got a lot of soft balls and uninterrupted speaking time, with little concrete information. He did well though mainly because almost no onemdared to take him on. Gingrich, he didn't seem much like a debater yesterday either.

When are super pacs running ads against Romney that he is an out of touch richy rich, who only wants to become president for the power and prestige, as opposed to being such a public servant. He is so rich, he can play golf all day long for the rest of his life, there is nothing he cant buy, minus the presidency. He is in it for the legacy, the official presidential portrait and an ambitious desire to live in the white house. It seems he is mainly driven by an ambition to achieve something money can't get you, (I can't have illegal aliens, I am running for office for Pete's sake!) not the public interest.
 
Bala Verde said:
When are super pacs running ads against Romney that he is an out of touch richy rich, who only wants to become president for the power and prestige, as opposed to being such a public servant. He is so rich, he can play golf all day long for the rest of his life, there is nothing he cant buy, minus the presidency. He is in it for the legacy, the official presidential portrait and an ambitious desire to live in the white house. It seems he is mainly driven by an ambition to achieve something money can't get you, (I can't have illegal aliens, I am running for office for Pete's sake!) not the public interest.
Everyone runs for the power prestige. Everyone who ever had a realistic chance of being president anyway.

First of all, with this format, you can hardly call it a debate
Agree with that.
 
May 13, 2009
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Bala, most of critique against the format and the softball questions (or not following up on blatant lies and vagaries) has to do with access. Candidates would never agree to a debate with moderators who might do what you suggest. They wouldn't even do interviews with such a person. Any such thing would be seen as 'going off message', which leads to 'losing a media cycle' etc. Stephanopoulos could have held their feet to the fire in the way you say, but it would also mean the end of his Sunday show. He wouldn't be able to get any republican to come on his show for a long, long time.

Some of what you suggest is done in the after shows analyzing the debate. Of course that is usually done by surrogates, campaign advisors, opinion journalists and so on, so it's hard to separate truth from spin. The opinion journalists, however, pay a price. There's hardly ever a republican going on the MSNBC shows of Maddow, Schultz and O'Donnell, and there's hardly any democrat going on the respective FoxNews shows. It's not that politicians couldn't stand up against those journalists, it's simply that it would get them off message and make them lose a media cycle. It's just bad campaigning and so they don't do it.
 
Jul 26, 2009
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Scott SoCal said:
I think you are starting to see the emergence of this now. When Romney gets the nod the Tea Party die-hards are going to be furious. They will have no choice but to vote for Romney but, unlike Libertarians, the TP has much more grass roots support and financial wherewithal.
Yup. They'll be furious, alright. The base is always furious. They'll get over it when they realize the thought of their staying at home plays into the hands of what they see as the real opponent. They'll be lined up to vote for whoever the Republican candidate is before the polls open in November. Just like all the Democrats and liberals are that say they are sick of Obama.

Scott SoCal said:
So I predict the Republican party will fracture between the inside the beltway repub establishment and the more right wing TP, probably within the next two or three election cycles. Which, of course will be good for democrats.
You owe me a nickel. I have been collecting nickels for every time I have heard that sentiment from either party when their ideologues are not winning. I can now personally pay off the national debt.
 
Cobblestones said:
Bala, most of critique against the format and the softball questions (or not following up on blatant lies and vagaries) has to do with access. Candidates would never agree to a debate with moderators who might do what you suggest. They wouldn't even do interviews with such a person. Any such thing would be seen as 'going off message', which leads to 'losing a media cycle' etc. Stephanopoulos could have held their feet to the fire in the way you say, but it would also mean the end of his Sunday show. He wouldn't be able to get any republican to come on his show for a long, long time.

Some of what you suggest is done in the after shows analyzing the debate. Of course that is usually done by surrogates, campaign advisors, opinion journalists and so on, so it's hard to separate truth from spin. The opinion journalists, however, pay a price. There's hardly ever a republican going on the MSNBC shows of Maddow, Schultz and O'Donnell, and there's hardly any democrat going on the respective FoxNews shows. It's not that politicians couldn't stand up against those journalists, it's simply that it would get them off message and make them lose a media cycle. It's just bad campaigning and so they don't do it.

That's why the whole charade is an utter sham.

What type of a debate doesn't allow for critical contention and confrontation? A droll and orchestrated one.

If the interviewers risk their careers just for conducting a debate, well, as a debate, then what good is it?

The minute response time-limit is more befitting of commercial publicity. The candidate becomes simply a brand to be consumed or discarded. A Warhol lithograph. Certainly nothing more than a superficial and pre-packaged response is permitted.

This is another reason why campaign financing needs to be reformed. Take the private money out of the electoral campaigns, give them more time to respond and press them hard to explain the contradictions in their responses.
 
May 13, 2009
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rhubroma said:
The candidate becomes simply a brand to be consumed or discarded. A Warhol lithograph.
Umm. Get me a Warhol lithograph and I won't discard it. In fact I will put it up at the best spot in my house ... above the fireplace.
 
Cobblestones said:
Umm. Get me a Warhol lithograph and I won't discard it. In fact I will put it up at the best spot in my house ... above the fireplace.
Ahh, but I was refering to the ironic spirit of pop art's mass advertising and news imagery...:p

Which I'm sure you already knew.
 
Bala Verde said:
First of all, with this format, you can hardly call it a debate.
No, it's more of a modified press conference with several people at podiums.

Cobblestones said:
Candidates would never agree to a debate with moderators who might do what you suggest. They wouldn't even do interviews with such a person.
Correct. I don't work directly in the media or for news, but I can assure this is correct. It's the directive of station managers, news directors, and executive producers, not just the reporter working that way. Start asking tough questions, you don't get to ask any more. They'll talk to your rivals at the other network only. Oh, and you'll be painted as "biased" by them and their followers. It's not just the politicians though. Law enforcement is this way as well. Grill the cops, you get information last next time, if at all. Nearly every station across the country, and not just CBS/ABC/NBC/FOX affiliates are all neutered this way.

The opinion journalists, however, pay a price.
True, which is why someone like Greg Palast did several of his research and interviews under cover. While left-leaning, he has been blacklisted by the Democrats for some time because he won't play along.

There's hardly ever a republican going on the MSNBC shows of Maddow, Schultz and O'Donnell, and there's hardly any democrat going on the respective FoxNews shows.
Generally true. Schultz has had Republicans on his show off and on (though many true liberals don't like Schultz to being with) but he gives them soft ball questions. Alan Colms has maybe more connections than any liberal host and he gets GOP members on radio show a fair amount, but while he can ask pointed questions, they are relatively predictable. Michael Reagan has also had Democrats on his show. Though most conservatives find him center-right, and he's not very combative with guests. Before Glenn Beck went off the deep end, he had several Democrats on his old show on CNN. Now, I don't know.

My point is, it does happen. But they won't really grill them, anymore than any other reporter or journalist. And that's for the same reason as you listed before.
 
May 13, 2009
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Alpe d'Huez said:
My point is, it does happen. But they won't really grill them, anymore than any other reporter or journalist. And that's for the same reason as you listed before.
Yes it does happen, but it is rare. Often they have one or two 'token' representatives from the other side which are called upon to comment on everything, so they're on quite often. MSNBC used to have Pat Buchanan, and now, I believe they have signed Steele and one or two more. They likely have a few democrats at Fox News, but I watch them too infrequently to know.

If you think of the press as the 'fourth power', it has been thoroughly emasculated by political strategists by controlling access.
 

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