A Few Troublesome Issues from the Recent Election
- 7 December 2008 by Author 0 Comments
A Few Troublesome Issues from the Recent Election
By Richard Larsen
Published – Idaho State Journal, 12/07/2008
After a month of pondering the outcome of the recent election, I’m still troubled by certain aspects of the presidential campaign. Yes, I was disappointed with the outcome, but unlike the intolerant bigots in California who continue to harass, intimidate, and terrorize supporters of Proposition 8, I accept the results of the democratic process. But there are a few things we should consider before the next election rolls around.
For example, the Obama campaign raised a record $750 million in campaign contributions. The New York Times called it “spectacular.” The Los Angeles Times called it “phenomenal” and “unparalleled fundraising ability.” Many other news sources praised it as “mind-boggling.” If we recall just four short years ago, George W. Bush was accused of “buying the presidency” by the major media due to his record setting fundraising. The Seattle Times accused the Bush campaign of “milking citizens for contributions” in an effort to “repurchase the Oval Office.” Many news sources referred openly to the “problem” of the Bush fundraising “juggernaut” and continually made accusations that Bush was simply buying the presidency. How much did the Bush-Cheney campaign raise for the record setting 2004 campaign? A paltry $367 million.
So which is it? Is it spectacular and phenomenal, or is it buying the presidency? I guess that depends on whether it’s your candidate raising all the money. And frankly, that’s disquieting, to say the least. John McCain’s Campaign Finance Reform of 2002 was supposed to rein in the rogue and questionable campaign contributions, but it obviously failed.
It’s high time to consider serious campaign finance reform to limit candidates’ ability to “buy” elections. The whole system is fraught with corruption and abuse.
After the election, John Zogby conducted a nationwide poll of Obama voters and asked them 12 simple questions about the candidates and politics in general. Of those polled, 97% were high school graduates, and 55% were college graduates. Ostensibly one would surmise that they would be fairly knowledgeable about the campaign and their candidate. However, the results were startling. Over 57% could not correctly say which party controls congress. More than 71% could not correctly say Joe Biden quit a previous campaign because of plagiarism. More than 82% could not correctly say that Barack Obama won his first election by getting opponents kicked off the ballot. Nearly 90% could not correctly say that Obama had himself said his policies would likely bankrupt the coal industry and make energy rates skyrocket. Nearly 60% could not correctly say Obama started his political career at the home of two domestic terrorists, members of the infamous Weather Underground.
Contrast this ignorance with what they did know. Nearly 90% correctly identified Sarah Palin as the person on which their party spent $150,000 on clothes. 94% could identify Palin as the candidate with a pregnant teenage daughter. And nearly 90% incorrectly thought that Palin had said that she could see Russia from her house, even though it was Tina Fey who said it on Saturday Night Live.
Of the twelve simple questions, only 2.4% got at least 11 correct, and only .5% got all of them correct. That is pathetic! Is it time to consider implementing a national Voter Aptitude Test in order to qualify to vote? When people are that factually ignorant the concept might well be plausible.
In his recent book Just How Stupid Are We? Facing the Truth About the American Voter, historian Rick Shenkman delves through reams of data illustrating how ignorant if issues and historical fact the average American voter is. According to Shenkman, only 2 of 5 voters can name the three branches of the Federal government, and 49% think the president has the authority to suspend the Constitution. That is scary.
There are many more issues of concern, but let’s address media bias. The week before the election Tom Brokaw was on the Charlie Rose show and they had this exchange:
Charlie Rose: “I don’t know what Barack Obama’s worldview is.
Tom Brokaw: No, I don’t, either.
Charlie Rose: I don’t know how he really sees where China is.
Tom Brokaw: We don’t know a lot about Barack Obama and the universe of his thinking about foreign policy.”
When we get to the very end of a two year campaign for the presidency and major media mavens are finally realizing that they don’t know much about a candidate, it means that those ideologues in the media weren’t doing their job! What happened to the probing questions and the so-called vetting process the media is supposed to conduct with these candidates?
Mark Halperin of Time magazine admitted last week at a Politico conference, “Media bias was more intense in the 2008 election than in any other national campaign in recent history.” He continued, “It’s the most disgusting failure of people in our business since the Iraq war. It was extreme bias, extreme pro-Obama coverage.” Deborah Howell, Ombudsman for the Washington Post has the data and has quantified the bias, validating Halperin’s observations.
If we’re politically ignorant, simply swallow what the mainstream media spoon-feeds us, and allow elections to simply be bought, I guess we get the government we deserve. Personally, I think we owe our country, and ourselves, more.
Richard Larsen is President of Larsen Financial, a brokerage and financial planning firm in Pocatello, and is a graduate of Idaho State University with a BA in Political Science and History and former member of the Idaho State Journal Editorial Board. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.