Thursday, September 29, 2016

We Built This

I know I’m not the only one who is appalled by the presidential election. The candidates from both major parties are terrible. The candidates from third parties are equally terrible. If we, the United States, had any sense at all, we’d ask Barack Obama to stay on for another year, and stage a do-over. This time it would be publicly funded. We could cut some money out of the Pentagon budget to use to fund the whole thing. It would take six months. No conventions, no hoopla – no dark money, no corporate cash, no Super PACs. Three months in would be a national primary – on the same day for every state. At the end of six months would be the general election. But, as this election proves, we do not possess any sense.

Like many of you, I watched part of the presidential debate on Monday night. I can usually find some cynical mirth in these sorts of proceedings, but not this time. This time I just felt sick and ashamed. Ashamed of this debacle and ashamed of all of us. We built this. It took us decades, but we built this big honking mess we find ourselves in.

It started in 1987 with the elimination of the Fairness Doctrine. For those who don’t remember, the Fairness Doctrine required broadcasters to devote some airtime to discussing matters of public interest. They were required to air opposing views. This was in news segments, public affairs shows, or editorials. Viewers were exposed to a variety of viewpoints.

Then along came President Clinton who gave us the Telecommunications Act of 1996, a bill that the corporate media lobbies were desperate for. At the time, it was touted as a way of encouraging competition and consumer savings. Congressman John Dingell thanked God for this bill that make this country the best served, the best educated and the most successful country ... in all areas of communications." Instead, it paved the way for huge media monopolies. In 1983, Ben Bagdikian published the book, “The Media Monopoly.” He reported that at the time, 50 corporations owned the media. Thanks to Clinton, that number now stands at 6. Before the Telecommunications Act, companies were not allowed to own more than 40 radio stations. Clear Channel owns more than 1200. The name change from Clear Channel to iHeartMedia doesn’t make that any more palatable. Print media suffered, too. Gannett owns over 1000 newspapers and 600 print periodicals. I could go on endlessly – but we’re seeing what happens when there is a dearth of independent media. We get an angry, incoherent man with a ridiculous hairstyle on the verge of becoming president.

During the same basic time period, we went from a nation that had some concern for the common good, to a nation that worships at the altar of the Church of the Free Market. Greed went from being a sin to a virtue. The Reaganites celebrated selfishness. In just a few decades we went from the GI Bill to you’re on your own, Jack. When money becomes the same as speech, the people without money are not heard. Free speech has become very, very expensive. We stopped valuing education, unless it was business school. Our founders all spoke several languages, yet we’ve hunkered down into “English only” as if it were some kind of a virtue to be less educated than the men we claim to venerate.

The worship of profit uber alles and selfishness combined with a failed fourth estate has brought us to this point. The rabid ideology of the far right has our government at a standstill. We no longer produce statesmen who want to serve their country. We have far lesser men (and women) whose sole concern is party loyalty and obstructionism. The bulk of our national treasure is invested in defense, and because the Pentagon refuses to be audited, we have no accounting of where those trillions go. Our national infrastructure is crumbling, and our government refuses to do anything about it. Our telecomm infrastructure is a disaster compared to other developed countries, but it’s controlled by monopolies that have no reason to improve it. Their bottom line is what matters.

We are served a steady diet of celebrity gossip, sports worship, and stories intended to create outrage. Take a look at the WMUR website sometime. There are stories posted every day of things that happen in other states, asking for comment. They’re intended to generate outrage and pit people against one another. Drunk people doing irresponsible things, stories of bad parenting – whatever. They are stories that are none of our business. The comment sections are filled with angry, petty judges, ready to pass sentence without full knowledge of the facts. It’s a safe bet that these same petty judges couldn’t tell you what the NH Executive Council is. This is what currently passes for “news.

As a nation, we have become stupid, angry, violent and greedy – and this is playing out for us in our current election cycle. A wealthy huckster and reality TV star somehow became the nominee of the Republican Party. The man has no idea what he’s talking about most of the time, and his views change from moment to moment. Trump has absolutely no impulse control, and as we saw in the debate, he is absolutely unfit to lead our country. The guy bankrupted casinos – which is virtually impossible to do – but people want to put him in charge of the US?

Clinton comes to us with decades of baggage. Her supporters complain that decades of right wing propaganda have turned people against her. Yet knowing that, the Democrats made the choice to foist a deeply flawed candidate upon us, and did whatever it took to anoint her. Now they’re mad at people who find the flaws problematic. Gary Johnson is a Koch-funded, right-winger, who likes to smoke pot. Jill Stein is just not leadership material.

There are no better angels here. The evils are equally distributed. The consequences of this election are going to be ugly, and the long-term repercussions will be devastating to the republic.

I vote for a do-over.  


published as an op-ed in the Sept. 30 edition of the Conway Daily Sun newspaper  


michaeledward said...

I don't want a do over. I trust the judgment of the American People.

I was a Bernie Sanders supporter from before the time he announced his candidacy. I knew, however, that he was destined to fail. But, I was going to support him right up to the moment that supporting him became detrimental to the country.

And when his quest failed, I knew that Hillary Clinton is ready, and ever so able, to be an wonderful, wonderful President. She has the chops to do the job, if not the chops to run for the job.

I do not look forward to the eight year witch hunt our Republican friends and neighbors are going to put on. If the private email server does not become articles of impeachment, in her first term, I will be surprised. Hillary is not anything like what the opposition describes.

Therefore, don't by the noise in the system. The process we have IS the process, and Mrs. Clinton received the most votes from Democratic Primary Voters. I respect their choice. I approve of their choice (Our choice). And I am going to be thrilled with the Clinton Presidency. You should too.

susanthe said...

Try as I might, I can see no reason to be thrilled by the prospect of a president who takes an annual vacation with her friend the war criminal.
Will you be enlisting in whatever war she starts?

michaeledward said...

You are aware the U S has been at war for the past 72 years, at least, right?

Elizabeth Ropp said...

Susan, I really love your work. I am one of the people who worked to get Jill Stein on the ballot. She is highly intelligent and has all the right values. BUT my real motivation was my anger at the Democratic Party. With Bernie, I was indefatigable at a volunteer. I was powered by pure joy and enthusiasm. Campaigning for Jill is harder because I am fueled by anger and pure bitterness. That's all on me, not a reflection on Jill Stein.

I don't know if we should let Obama have a bonus year or if we should just take a break from Presidents for awhile. I am throwing in the towel on Presidential campaigning. I figure if I campaign for State Reps, then I can spend time telling everyone how great my friends are.

susanthe said...

Answer my question, Michael. Will you be enlisting?

susanthe said...

Elizabeth - the most important votes we cast are in our local and state elections. Those decisions affect our lives every day. Who we send to the NH legislature is of paramount importance.

tworavens said...

This is yet another profoundly written piece! I use the word "profound" because it does reach to the heart of what so many of us think, feel and experience in these troubling times. I can't imagine being "thrilled" with yet another Clinton in the "cigar house". Both candidates represent the foulest and filthiest of political chicanery and underhandedness.

The world looks at us and we have affirmed their view of the "big ugly American". There is little doubt in my mind both candidates will drive us into a war far worse than any we've seen since Vietnam or Iraq. It may be the last. A do over is really the only solution and may eventually be our only hope (if we have a chance at it). There is absolutely no chance of either candidate initiating any kind of meaningful repair toward a better place. Those who support Trump can only be looked at by myself with suspicion and an air of nervousness. Clinton supporters are perhaps desperate and delusional. She and her husband built their multi million dollar empire much like Trump did - on the backs of taxpayers and peers who wanted "in" on the money wagon action.

Either way, we're in trouble. A vote for Clinton is a vote for the status quo. A vote for Trump is a vote for perhaps locus in quo or a more appropriate phrase "the scene of the crime".

Carol Robidoux said...

"But, as this election proves, we do not possess any sense." I would replace "sense" with "power." We've abdicated our power, or been distracted by the smoke and mirrors, and the daily struggle just to hold on to our individual pursuit of happiness. We're so intent on maintaining what's within our grasp we fail see the looming cliff before it's too late. Maybe it's not too late. Launch the petition, I say.

jrmetalman9 said...

I would not give Obama anymore time for any reason. He was handed the presidency based on 8 years of mistakes and is unfit for the job. The E mail debacle was handled as badly as it was to protect our country from the awful truth that even our president was guilty of participating in her private unprotected server. Maybe it's time for unfettered democracy. Maybe it's time to take a thirty day time out. Nov. elections still go all except the presidency. You're absolutely right that we need a do over. Maybe it's time to use super computer systems to find the best candidates if that were possible.

ken belcher said...

Right on every point as usual Susan. Keep up the Great work