Where’s The Outrage?!

Is this the most bizarre Presidential election or what? If you’re not angry over what’s going on, WHY NOT? I’m not talking about anything specifically Democrat or Republican here. It’s more about the collusion of both parties to transform the debates and our elections.

It all began when the Democrats and Republicans conspired together to take the national Presidential candidate debates away from the non-partisan League of Women Voters. Both parties hated having their candidates surprised and embarrassed by tough and unexpected questions. Plus, there was the very real threat and looming danger of the rise of third party candidates. Remember Ross Perot beating the first George Bush in one of the primaries? That sent a shudder through both parties.

Once the Democrats and Republicans teamed up and wrested control of the debates away from the League of Women Voters, the debates were no longer debates. For one, all of the candidates now have the questions in advance. The candidates no longer debate in true debate format. Everything is now geared and timed to accommodate sound bite answers. There is no in-depth discussion of any issue. There is also very little real direct confrontation between the candidates.

OK; this is not absolutely current news. But look at what our complacency has allowed in this election:

For the first time in the history of the U. S. primaries, Democratic candidates (Dennis Kucinich & Mike Gravel) and a Republican candidate (Ron Paul) have been excluded from their own party’s televised debates.

For the first time in the history of the U. S. primaries, a viable candidate’s name was taken off one of the state’s primary election ballots (Dennis Kucinich in Texas)! Coalitions have been formed by the other Republican candidates to keep Ron Paul’s name off of ballots.

Never before have so many primary candidates been marginalized by the media. If you’ve watched TV and read newspapers over the past several months, you’d think there were only two Democratic primary candidates (did you know that Mike Gravel is still running?) and just three Republican primary choices (did you know that Ron Paul came in second in Nevada — beating John McCain — and has a chance of winning Maine? Did you know he is one of the most successful grassroots fundraisers in history and that he has raised more money on the internet than any of his Republican rivals?).

WHERE IS THE PUBLIC OUTRAGE?!!!

Whether or not you support either of these candidates, their highly individual voices and ideas still need to be a part of our national political conversation.

This is a very dangerous precedent. The 1992 Democratic primaries began with about eight candidates. Jerry Brown began at the bottom; he was often the butt of the other candidates’ jokes. Particularly amusing to them was his using this new thing called the Internet to raise funds. Internet Jerry — what a hoot! Well, Jerry nearly had the last laugh because when the smoke cleared and the dust had settled after the initial primary elections, there were two candidates left standing: Bill Clinton and Jerry Brown.

If this were to replay today, Brown would not have been allowed in the debates and attempts would have been made to get his name off of state ballots.

Activist Al Sharpton was in the 2004 Democratic Presidential primaries and their debates. It was clear from the start that he was not a truly viable candidate, but his original thinking and keen critical remarks cut through the thick fog of all the canned soundbites. Sharpton stimulated fresh thought and kept the other candidates on their toes. Something like that couldn’t happen during this election.

Please don’t allow this ideological rape and stifling of our democratic system to continue. Make yourself heard. Write your local newspapers and TV stations. Call your local talk show stations. Protest! Get attention!

Do your homework and find out what each of the candidates believes. Don’t settle for soundbites. Then, finally, Vote (demand paper ballots and a vote receipt where possible; we need that paper trail!). Hundreds of thousands of courageous Americans have died and shed their blood so that you could have this privilege.

Thank you.

6 Responses to “Where’s The Outrage?!”

  1. mike lemos says:

    Hey Bill,
    Beyond outrage here. Been watching the disaster for quite a while and have been so frustrated with the media, the current regime, and the rest of the circus. Don’t want to sound like I’m one of those guys that you see at every comments section saying "Vote Ron Paul", but yes I’m voting Paul, he’s not a sound bite, he actually thinks and I’ve even noticed other candidates using some of his using his ideas as "sound bites" for their campaign. Been doing the petitions, letters etc., on issues regarding the constitution and others as well, Here’s someone that is thinking and did something about it: http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=4a2_1201866388

    Thanks Bill.
    Best.
    M. Lemos

  2. Benno Rothschild says:

    Interesting comments Bill. I think political discourse in this country simply mirrors our sound-bite culture. Few are interested in more than the next handy slogan. Anything longer than a few sentances is too much information for far too many of us. We are happy to spout platitudes about how great democracy is, but few are willing to actually do the hard work of understanding the issues that confront us and voting accordingly (or voting at all for that matter)

  3. A dear friend of mine, Brian Gaughan, pointed out an error in my rant. I’d like to correct it.

    It wasn’t Jerry Brown who pioneered the early use of the internet (and was ridiculed for it) in the Democratic Presidential primaries; it was Howard Dean. The internet wasn’t really a presence back in 1992 when Jerry was running.

    My basic premise stands, though. Brown did, indeed, begin as the dark horse in that race. If today’s rules applied, he would have been marginalized, denied access to the debates and he even might have been stricken from some ballots.

    My apologies for the error, though, my friends.

  4. Rick Tucker says:

    I’m numb. I noticed the format for the "debates" and consequently didn’t bother tuning in. In the 8 years I’ve been out of my country changes have been made that appear to be permanent. The biggest is the way soundbites and apathy have now become the norn. No one gets mad anymore and I’ve been livid for so long that I finally threw up my hands. My poor wife has put up with my rants for years but now she sees what I’ve been raising hell over and now joins me in our comments and utter sense of disgust. And just try talking about what’s wrong to anyone. Forget about it. Not only do they not see, they do not want to see. When Dennis Kucinich threw in the towel (and why wouldn’t he?) all I could do was stare at the floor. Look at how the DNC penalized Florida for having an early primary by taking away their delegates. Who does that serve? A prominent Republican recently stated that while apathy is seriously affecting the Republican party that they can count on the Democrats shooting themselves in the foot, and Florida and Michigan show that the Dems have loaded the pistol. Ron Paul is not the guy I’d like to vote for but at least he’s a real, old school Republican. To see his words reduced to soundbites is to see who’s really running this country, As a registered independent for the last 11 years I take some comfort, small as it is, that I don’t contribute to the mess of the two party system that has joined hands to sell out the American dream.
    The distractions over the last several years have left Americans looking for simple answers to complex issues from poverty to the war. without being able to hold the candidates feet to the fire we loose our best opportunity to know who they are and hold them in any way responsible when they fail us.

    Rick

  5. Benno Rothschild says:

    Seeing Ralph Nader announce his candidacy on Meet the Press made me think of your journal entry Bill. I still think the guy is just a narcissist who inadvertantly stuck us with George Bush in the 2000 election and has since decided that playing spoiler was kinda fun so why not do it again. I agree with you that elections need to be about choice-but Obama vs McCain seems to be inevitable at this point and that seems like a reasonably stark choice.

  6. John F. Davies says:

    A very interesting post, covering a topic that I never expected to hear about. Speaking as a fellow paleoartist and as a Marine Corps veteran, I want to add a few points to this discussion.
    The old political definitions of "Liberal" and "Conservative" are now becoming irrelevant as the new concerns of this new Century trump the politics of the past. It’s now no longer the Right against the Left, but rather: "Wall Street against Main Street".
    With the cold wind of recession starting to blow in our faces, we the people find that neither established political party offers any real solutions to our present crises. And there’s a reason for this, it’s because both parties are in the thrall of the politically connected rich. As the chair of the corporate sponsored Democratic Leadership Council recently stated- "No Democrat can win without our support." And, as in the cases of Dennis Kucinich and Ron Paul, any candidate who directly challenges the corporate establishment will be ignored, trivialized, and even forced out of debates by the leadership of their parties. Simply put, these corporate masters will not tolerate any challenges to their authority, and to deny this hard fact is to deny the realities of power in this country.
    One now finds that the travails of the liberal Democrat are also those of the conservative Republican. These mutual concerns are starting to bring together groups that years ago would never have spoken to one other. For instance, abuses of eminent domain and redevelopment have brought together alliances of Greens and Libertarian Republicans. Climate Change issues unite many environmentalists with evangelical Christians. The so-called "Patriot Act" and other privacy-related matters have allied lifetime NRA members with established supporters of the ACLU. Common ground is apparently being found, yet we don’t hear very much about it. Why is this? I suspect that these new alliances are upsetting the agendas of those who would still have us living in the past. Perhaps they see a potential groundswell as something that could make them irrelevant. I will even guess that maybe this could be an even greater threat to the designs of the moneyed few than what there was in the ’60’s. Perhaps this maelstrom that we see around us will finally make us aware that our salvation is not with the major parties, but rather with ourselves. I will add here that whomever wins this coming November, they will be facing a new and ever-increasing popular movement that transcends any label. I for one, am looking forward to it.

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