Anti-intellectualism put us here.
The more Americans read, the more we’d understand. But naturally, some systems depend on the public’s lack of understanding. So these systems created distractions, making use of America’s affinity for flashy entertainment. And they won.
Now, America’s presidential debates utilize the same sound effects and fanatic coverage as its televised sporting events. Books are “stupid,” according to every high schooler’s Facebook profile page ever. Facts and logic fall far behind belly-fire and edgy attitudes in the citizen’s pick for office. Americans demand to know which candidate is bold enough to stand up to the establishment.
What we often fail to recognize is what caused these candidates to succeed in becoming options at all — they created and comprise the very establishment we despise. The establishment that has become so expert in gaining power has also become expert in knowing exactly what we want to hear, and wrapping it in just the right package to appeal to today’s concerned American.
It’s been a long time since America’s had a genius president. It’s been a long time since brain-power topped the list of reasons to support a candidate. In America, the establishment decides who to sponsor, what they’ll stand for, and what they’ll do in office once they win. George W. Bush and Barack Obama sure seemed pretty different four years ago, didn’t they? Now, it’s clear that their policies that affect us the most are identical — and not surprisingly, so is most of their campaign donor lists.
Are you tired of working hard to promote a choice candidate that ultimately serves to disappoint you? Are you tired of making excuses for poor representatives you really used to believe in? Then let’s take a lesson from this mess.
We should know better by now than to trust any candidate backed by millions of special interest dollars. Those special interests aren’t yours or mine, and they don’t belong in the political arena. They’re the interests of a small group of people so extremely wealthy, it would be impossible for most any of us to save up a year of their salary in our entire lifetime.
Don’t hate rich people. They’re people, in the club for a variety of reasons. But please, take the time to look into how a candidate answers questions, and compare them to facts, logic, and what you know you know. Do this, or we will all pay the price for our ignorance.
The special interests profiting from the recession have little pressing desire to fix these problems they created. We have to. The vast amount of data on the Internet can help us form educated opinions on issues where both parties have failed.
Knowledge used to be power. We can use the Internet to earn that power back again.
“Who are you going to vote for? The flu or the mumps? Which disease do you want? How do you want to be sick?”
- Cool “urban” guy from this 1994 political documentary I’m watching (Related: Oliver North’s ear on my face.)
This is America. And in America, we should have a really awesome president. I think we can all agree on that. Even if we haven’t had an awesome president in 200 years or whatever.
Every four years, we passively observe the emergence of some guy versus some other guy, neither of which we really like that much. But we have to pick one, because they implore us to. And because we’re just supposed to. Right?
Listen, guys. The Democratic and the Republican parties are both pretty awful right now. I get a chill of guilt-addled adrenaline every time I consider voting for either Obama or Romney. Do we pick the guy who said he’d do a bunch of awesome shit and then backed out of most of it, almost apologetically? Or do we pick the Disney villain who’s so out of touch with real things, like median wages and science, that he wonders why he can’t open the windows on his airplane?
Every four years, we seem to forget that there are actually more than two people running for president. (I know, I just reminded you!) Yeah yeah, I know what you’ve heard. That voting for a third-party candidate is silly, right? You could be taking a vote from the “lesser of two evils” guy, so the more evil guy would end up winning!
Eventually, these circular thoughts make us equal parts exhausted and confused, and we either give in, or give up and stay home on election day.
But don’t give up yet. Or, in. Just bear with me.
These two nice-looking people could be our out.
Jill Stein and Gary Johnson are running for President of the United States under two third parties (fourth parties?). If you haven’t heard of them, I’m not mad. Getting brushed off is a bi-hourly thing for them, so they don’t get a lot of publicity. But they seem like nice people, so I’m going to show you what they’re all about.
Enter the world of Jill Stein for President:
What I did today: The Grover Norquist Rap
Despite some occasional obloquy, I love America. I used to not be so sure, so I left, stayed away for a while, and when I came back I was certain. We may have our share of problems, but with due consideration to our industrious background and a Constitution that dozens of countries have worked to imitate, we’ve got a lot to work with when it comes to solving those problems.
It’s easy to tell our foreign friends all about where our nation’s gone wrong, and how disenfranchised its people have become. But the next time you’re asked to list your grievances, whether to a friend, colleague, or independent news network, remember this: Americans can fix all of it, if we choose to.
If there’s a law on the books that just isn’t right, or a Wall Street honcho who deserves a swift conviction, it’s a journalist’s job to bring the issue to light. But there’s one more step that many miss, and it could be just as important as the information itself. We need to explain what to do next, or we’ll be faced with a nation overwhelmed with despair in its government. And if we don’t explain, as the experts on this information, what can be done to fix the problem, the people will attempt to take matters into their own hands based on the summary of information they’ve been given. And that can be tragic.
“It won’t work,” your readers will tell you. But you know it will, because it has before. Because information is easier to explain when its roots are well understood, journalists often find themselves moonlighting as impromptu historians of whatever topic they cover. Want to cover the National Defense Authorization Act? Then you have to know what it is, when it began, and what it’s meant to do before you can explain why a clause in one particular version is a huge deal. Otherwise, the writer and all of his readers will take the streets shouting “NO NDAA!” while Washington shakes its head and says, “It’s just the name of a budget.”
The people must be educated, not inundated. And that’s our job.
Two days ago, President Obama chose a very interesting nominee for the head of the Securities and Exchange Commission. Mary Jo White first gained recognition as the first female US Attorney for the Southern District of New York. As a DA, she was tough as nails on criminals from mafia men to alleged terrorists. Then, in 2002, she took the leap to the better-paying private sector, as many attorneys do. Her biggest clients? Bank of America and JP Morgan. Free from her chains of public servitude, she was able to navigate her too-big-to-fail clients out of the way of any and all investigation into the lending and underwriting practices that led to the 2007 financial meltdown. During her tenure at Debvoise & Plimpton, the firm which represented the banks, White used her federal prowess to ensure that several cases filed by the SEC against her clients were either dropped, or stalled until they expired.
The “fox guarding the henhouse” is nothing new for federal regulatory agencies, but while President Obama’s emerging picks for his new cabinet come under fire from both sides of the aisle, this is the most obviously alarming.
The Senate, of course, can choose to deny her this seat. As it stands, she’s just a nominee, and her Senate Confirmation hearings may bring new light to what we already know. But according to the New York Times, “When it comes to cabinet-level nominees, it’s extremely unusual for the Senate to reject anyone. In its history, the Senate has confirmed over 500 cabinet nominations and only denied nine.” That’s a 98.2 percent approval rate.
As journalists, we can’t stop here. The people know, so now what? This is the point where most popular media outlets are too afraid of looking like Raw Story to end with a call-to-action.
Our readers should call their senators, and so should we. If Mary Jo White’s best defense is her admittedly stunning prosecution record pre-2002, her past ten years make an easy case for her denial as head of the commission she worked for 10 years to mislead. White may be tough on crime, but if financial crime doesn’t count, the SEC is not the right place for her, and our senators need to know that. Public opinion does count for Senators, because ignoring us hurts their job security tremendously. So tell them we care, and do your best to tell your readers what to do if they care, too. Let’s start a trend of action that solves these problems we love to hate.