September 28, 2007

The YouTube Generation

You hear it all the time, "the younger generation doesn't care about politics." Apparently our generation is filled with people who care little about the world around them and simply play with electronics all day. Is that true? I would say definitely not!
For those who don't believe me, why not look at blogs like Liberal College Kid in which students discuss political issues? Or how about watching some of the hundreds of political video blogs by people like James Kotecki or Bryan Barton? College students all over the country participate in protests about the war, abortion, and gay rights. They stand up for their views, begin groups like the Young Republicans and Young Democrats. How about the issue with Karl Rove which occured on American University's campus last year? Those who say that students have become apathetic should look again.
Just ask the gods of political satire Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert where their largest following comes from. I'm pretty sure they will tell you that their popularity and support is largely rooted in the younger generation. Lewis Black and the members of Capitol Steps would most likely agree. College students are tremendously involved in politics!
In fact, it seems as though those politicians are simply not trying to reach out to the group. Many don't try to understand the new voting group. Which politicians are gaining the most support with this generation? Easy answer, the ones who reach out to them! Obama Girl and Giuliani Girl follow their candidates for a reason! The Democrats and Republicans who actually try to rally support from the new voting group do in fact win it!

The Burmese Aside

In delivering his speech at annual meeting of the General Assembly, President George W. Bush* highlighted a country that few Americans could find on a map - Myanmar, better known to the Western world as Burma. Burma's plight has been the subject of little popular discussion beyond MTV's favorite political prisoner - An Sang Su Chi, a young woman who has been under house arrest on and off for over a decade. Over the past few weeks however, the plight of the Burmese people has come under the spotlight of Western news outlets. The outbreak of rioting and civil disobedience, encouraged by populist has brought the country to the brink of implosion.

It takes the abominable harassment of monks for mainstream media to turn its eye on a problem that's been going on for far too long. This illustrates that the reason that there is no real, deep political discussion in American today perhaps is as much the fault of a complacent and enabling media as it does with the candidates.


is hillary really an advocate for gay rights?

in a recent issue of the gay issues magazine, the advocate, hillary clinton danced around the question of gay rights... she was clear about her position on marriage equality: she won't have it. and yet she seems much more sympathetic to the cause than her husband, the man wee all have to thank for DADT. i get a sense that while hillary may not support marriage equality now, she's earnestly trying to wrap her brain around the Queer Question, as i'll call it.... as long as heterosexuals have rights that i do not have, i will remain a second-class citizen and as long as hillary remains transparent and open to the cause, she'll remain as my pick for the democratic nomination

Promising Polls

Here is the link for the current polls:

It showing Hilary Clinton in the lead currently, which is interesting news. This shows that America maybe finally ready for a woman president. However, I have a feeling that the polls will change.

The democratic party have the lead, which I was expecting. However electing a new president is always different. With Bush finally leaving the White House, our next president has a lot of work to do.

Taking Politics Into Our Own Hands

If only I could raise $30 million in three weeks...

According to CNN's Political Ticker, Newt Gingrich announced Monday that he would enter the campaign if donors contributed "at least $30 million... over a three-week period starting Monday and ending Oct. 21."

But before you all experience a euphoria-induced blog-o-seizure, let's think about Gingrich's chances should he enter the 'invisible primary.'

As most of you have probably noticed, a couple battleground political states are waging a rather subtle yet important war. Each vying to overtake New Hampshire for the title of 'first primary,' preliminary elections are moving closer and closer to the beginning of 2008. I've even heard CNN refer to what was known as 'Super Tuesday' as 'Super Duper Tuesday' (thanks, Wolf...) because the primaries now resemble a sort of national referendum on the candidates.

That effectively leaves Gingrich four months to campaign; a hurdle that underlies the effects of unequal media (in)exposure during the primary process.

And let's not forget Gingrich's $30 million challenge. As of June 30, 2007, the top two candidate in terms of fund raising, Mitt Romney and Rudy Giuliani, campaigned for nearly $35 million and $33 million, respectively.

In other words, Gingrich hopes to do in three months what the current candidates have been doing for well over six. That's a little too idealist for me.

I mean, I, like anyone else, want to see a competent man or woman elected to the office of the president in 2008. I, again like the rest of this Web site's bloggers, hope the person who makes the grade does so fairly and openly with as much discourse as possible. But there is a fine line between idealism and pragmatism. Gingrich should run, but he needs to tone down his expectations if he wants to be successful; expectations are usually the reasons candidates fail. And he has to remember that despite his criticism, the system is what it is. He can hate the present state of political discourse and lambaste the insular primary or donor systems all to the approval of voter applause, but he has to play and rely on the system if he wishes to fix it. Tis the irony of politics.

The political clock is ticking, Newt.

Slate readers get thinking about debates

I was looking around on earlier. Apparently a few months ago the online publication asked its readers for their opinions on how to improve the current presidential debates. There are some suggestions from the Slate readers that are definatly worth looking at, and a few that are a bit “out there.” Here’s a rundown of some of the more noteable points:

Fact Checking During the Debates: “In a first round, journalists would question the candidates. Those answers would then be fact-checked by a panel. During the fact-checking, candidates would be allowed to say whatever they wanted in a second round. (This free gab period would be a sweetener that might entice them to participate.) In the third round, the fact-checking panel would make candidates defend their distortions, ask for clarifications, or point out which questions the candidates had ducked altogether.”
Give the audience control: We saw this type thing with the CNN/Youtube debates, but several Slate readers suggested a different take on it inspired by shows like American Idol and Survivor. The audience would have the power to vote candidates off the stage who’s answers were no good. And if a candidate began to ramble, his microphone could be cut off.
Let the candidates question each other: Candidates sparring against one another on various topics may be more entertaining and yield better debate than the standard panel of journalists and academics asking questions.

To read some of the other ideas from the readership, here’s the link the article:

Candidate Calculator

So I found this via the usual annoying spam sent to me by my aunt. It's for those of you who are too lazy to think for yourselves, too lazy to watch any of the debates, and definitely too lazy to pick up a newspaper and read anything about the 2008 Presidential candidates. It's the Candidate Calculator! The very sophisticated calculator asks you "yes" or "no" questions about whether you support certain issues, like the Iraq war, abortion rights, and immigration policy. It then allows you to label the issue as one of low, medium, or high importance creating an accurate and fine-tuned calculation. In the results it displays the Presidential candidate that is your number one match, as well as candidates that are close matches, and your least compatible choices.

While this is funny, and obviously not a real way to choose a candidate, I wonder if it is not a more short-winded version of picking a candidate than watching Presidential debates, or reading about their opinions on issues in newspapers. Particularly today, candidates don't go into depth about their stances regarding certain matters. The public doesn't really know much more than the neutral and glossed-over version that is fed to us after much instruction from their PR person. So perhaps we should give up and just use the trusty Candidate Calculator.

Also, my mother I were talking, and she told me she did her calcuation just for fun, and she, an avid Hillary supporter, found that her political views, in fact, lined up more with Denis Kucinich's politics. This to me is an expression of the limited realistic options faced by those who are very leftist. Obviously Kucinich is not going to get the nomination, and most likely I will end up voting for the more moderate nominee. Sometimes its very frustrating for me, because it sucks to have to settle!

(Not) Taking a Stance

In response to mschellentrager’s most recent post:

Although disappointing, it comes as no surprise to me that the Democratic presidential candidates did not take a stronger stance on bringing our troops home from Iraq. It is no longer common for candidates to take such strong and definite stands during debates, partially because the strict structure does not encourage candidates to. The small time frame given to answer questions and respond is hardly long enough to explain a plan to withdraw troops.

This has been the topic I have continually revisited these past three weeks. Although other people in the class might not realize it, they are connecting present day politics to the Lincoln-Douglas debates, as “mschellentrager” did. Many people have a problem with the way debates are run and the information that the American public receives from them. Debates are no longer used as a platform to introduce all of a candidate’s plans if elected. There are additional television interviews, newspaper stories, even Wikipedia entries. I lump the debates into the same category as all of these.

Debates have lost their prominence in the United States. Candidates do not feel the need to take firm stands on issues, just stay in the middle ground. Debate structure needs to be revamped before we will see politicians stating their opinions more authoritatively.

Monikers and How to Shed Them

Bob Dylan is in town tomorrow with Elvis Costello. Bruce Springsteen will be in town in mid-November. Being me, I began ruminating on something that concerns all three of these musicians: the use of a moniker. Robert Zimmerman, more commonly known as Bob Dylan, lent his voice and penned lyrics to a generation of the disenfranchised and politically active. In doing so, he immortalized the name Bob Dylan, and lent it to the public a moniker to bestow on budding folk musicians. Since the late 1970s, new singers with even a small resemblance to Bob Dylan have been branded as "the NEXT BOB DYLAN" Elvis Costello, Bruce Springsteen, John Wesley Harding, and many others. John Wesley harding was doomed from the start- he named himself after a Dylan song. But both Springsteen and Costello managed to escape the "NEXT BOD DYLAN" title and emerge into the spotlight themselves.
By now you're probably wondering what the hell this musical commentary has to do with politicians and debate. A lot. It is just an example of a disturbing trend in our society to label the next big thing with something from the past. In politics, we keep looking for the next Thomas Jefferson, Abe Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, FDR, JFK, or Ronald Reagan. This labeling seems to be seriously en vogue this presidential race. Republicans are looking for a turn to Reaganism, a candidate like Reagan who brought the Republican Party back into the limelight after the corruption of the Nixon years. The Democrats, on the other hand, seem to be searching for a candidate that is both radical and extremely popular, a la Franklin Roosevelt. But this trend worries me. If we continue to label and look for the next anything, are we not dooming ourselves to re-living the past and the mistakes that were made. We can't think of these new politicians in the same way we thought of the old ones. We have to expect them, and encourage them, to turn into something new and unique. Incorporate elements of the past, but don't simply emulate it. Both Springsteen and Costello were thought to be simple copies of Bob Dylan, but instead turned into great musicians in their own rights. That is what we need politicians to do. We can't misconstrue today's candidates with presidents from the past. We have to listen instead to what they are saying, and not diluting it with what we want to see and hear.

Quotable Quotes

I was having a hell of a time today, trying to write this blog. So, I decided to veer a bit off topic and post some quotes about politics and debate and attempt to analyze them or apply them to 'today's' world.

1) Debate and divergence of views can only enrich our history and culture.
-Ibrahim Babangida

I wasn't sure who the author of this first quote was, so I looked Babangida up on Wikipedia. He was the 8th president of Nigeria, in power from 1985 until 1993. Although he did not necessarily utilize this quote in his regime, I still think it to be a fitting quotation for our discussions on politics. If debate and divergence can only enrich our history and culture, than why is it politicians so desperately avoid any real debate or divergence of opinion?

2) A politician's goal is always to manipulate public debate. I think there are some politicians with higher goals. But all of them get corrupted by power.
-Dean Koontz

Dean Koontz, as many know is a fiction writer, generally of mystery/suspense novels. One of the major problems with modern political debates is the lack of any sincerity. As Koontz says, politicians are always trying to manipulate public debate; they are constantly spinning stories, rephrasing and backtracking so as to appeal to all voters. The quotation continues to say Koontz believes there exist some politicians who have higher aims than simply to win votes, but in the end all our corrupted by power, I statement I tend to agree with.

After last night's debate, the reputation of Messieurs Lincoln and Douglas is secure.
-Edward R. Murrow

This quotation was my personal favorite, possibly because I'm a big fan of Edward Murrow, or possible because of its implications. If in the 1950s political debates were poor enough for Murrow to make this statement then to what levels have sunk to today, fifty years later?

In short, these are just a few of many thousands of quotes on politics, debate, and the state of the nation, but they three which I liked and felt had some relevance to our course and blog.

Here are the links for the wikipedia pages of the three authors of the quotations: