"The system we now use for electing the President of the United States is, in bare form, almost no different from the television game show, which in turn is little more than an electronic pie eating contest. Each contestant has an extraordinarily limited amount of time to come up with a correct answer, in which 'correct' in this case means short, punchy, and devoid of controversy. The goal for each contestant is to make the audience laugh, cry, or applaud within the alloted time. The questions, roughly: 'In two minutes, how would you solve the security problems of the Middle East? Do you like guns the sufficient required amount to be considered manly? Your campaign has the momentum of a runaway freight train: what makes you so popular?' We consider these tiny snippets to be the height of campaign wisdom, and have structured our entire campaign process around them. This is in part because any more nuanced exploration of candidate positions and abilities and thought processes would require effort.
"In principle, televised national debates could be great things, for a democracy. It is a way for each candidate to be known by the entire country, regardless of the constraints of travel. But a 'debate' between six, or eight, or nine candidates is not a 'debate', it is Democracy Pong. Tiny, glancing answers to urgent and overwhelming problems is a measure of something, but it is not necessarily thoughtfulness or leadership. (Take Rudy Giuliani, for example. He is the messiah of the id, and a Knight Templar of the unfocused revenge fantasy, his campaign based entirely on giving the most aggressive and primal answer to any possible question. He needs no thought or actual knowledge to frame his answers: doing violence to bad people is the entire frame of his campaign. How violence, or which people, or how to define bad: these are meaningless details to be scattered to the wind -- the primal and unspecified do is the only thing of import. In any campaign which required the expression of actual complex thought, Giuliani would be eaten alive, gutted like an alley trash bag by New York City rats.)"
Labels: U.S. Politics