The situation that prevails now is strangely similar to the closing scene in The Fall of the Roman Empire, a lush big screen movie produced in the mid sixties.Comodus has died and wealthy senators fight over the succession while the empire begins its slow slide into oblivion.
Today the US has been called an empire and wealthy elites scramble for power ,priviledge and even more money --all to the detriment of the country and to democratic government.The plebians need to rise from their long sleep and demand better.
We need campaign reform ,and we need it desperately.
1.Require broadcasters to provide free air time for political advertisements as
a condition for the continuance of their broadcasting licences.
2.Truth in advertising! Fines for facts demonstrably false.
3.Transparency! Just where is the money coming from?
4.Real debates--- with questions taken from the audience.
5. Spending limits.
It's my understanding that broadcasters must offer air time to candidates and their campaigns at greatly reduced rates as a condition of maintaining their licenses. The SuperPACs, however, are not eligible. They must (and will) pay the going rate for general advertisers. Broadcast and cable companies can count on truly enhanced revenues for the 2nd and 3rd quarters of this fiscal year.
As for your other points, I wholeheartedly agree--as, I would hope, do most of us. The ones who DON'T agree are the ones sitting in state capitols and Washington, D.C. making damn sure there's as little accountability to the electorate as possible.
Did the Georgia House Speaker David Ralston really say that people trying to push a real ethics reform bill had " a self-absorbed agenda that’s not consistent with the best interests of our party."? Yes, he did. Out loud. He chastised his own party members for seeking transparency and accountability for office holders.
I used to think term limits was a bad idea, but I'm rethinking my position. Sure, some good ones are going to be thrown out with the bath water, but at least the bad ones won't become entrenched in the halls of power, allowed to say something that outrageous and still have his job the next day.
I like some of your ideas, but not sure how they will play out in the real world...
"Truth in advertising! Fines for facts demonstrably false." I really like this one, but it is hole-y-er than Swiss cheese. I will use the infamous Willie Horton Ad that hurt Michael Dukakis. It was horribly misleading, but NOT demonstrably false - and he was not even my candidate.
"Real debates--- with questions taken from the audience." Never work. For every 1 reasonable voter who would ask Obama about the economy or Romney about his health care plan, there would be 10 (or 100 or 1000) who would ask about Obama's birth certificate, or Romney's religious beliefs.
The Willie Horton ad invited viewers to make a false inference---something that is not that hard to detect. Perhaps ads need to provide a disclaimer: "Acting on this ad may be harmful to the nation's health." Some ads would pass the smell test ,but others would cetainly not-- so I think we really can prevent the most egregious ads from airing.
Democracy is messy ,so we have to tolerate idiotic comments from time to time.
People dwell upon nonissues because the news media serves them up with great relish.Yellow journalism is alive and well and still sells. Please note that I am not advocating censorship-- just a viewing public that demands more.
Change could come with the stroke of a pen.Our problems are purely the result of the great cultural changes that are taking place in our country.I fear we have become a nation of lotus eaters.
It's a pretty bad situation if you believe in the whole Civics 101 "we the people elect officials to represent us in a legislature idea."
It's especially bad for state legislature races where five or ten thousand dollars of outside money can tip the scales, and where a few million dollars strategically applied based upon sound, expensive demographic data analysis can change a state. So now we've got national ideologues with money trying to flip local elections so they can score points in the culture war at the expense of decent, less partisan local governance & local development.
Economically all this extra advertising money (and indeed any money spent on lobbying/changing political opinion) amounts to deadweight loss, the same type of loss to the economy that happens when taxes are imposed. It is real money that could be invested in real actual economic growth that is instead being invested into bad campaign commercials with no economic return.
Legally, after the Citizens United court decision, we have a system that looks a lot like legalized money laundering: money flows from C4s and C3s to protected ideological LLCs to SuperPACS in some complicated pattern that you need a super complex organization chart to understand, all so all that money flying around cannot be traced to its source.
The scariest outcome to me is when unknown outside money floods in to elected judicial positions and we have courts stacked against local interests by national ideologues and no way to prove who is paying for what, because our wonderful supreme court decided to overturn the awesome national bipartisan McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform law to the chargrin of both Mr. Obama and Mr. McCain.
I'd say that this is probably a bigger nonpartisan deal for our democracy now with longer reaching effects than any partisan issue out there, and I appreciate the post.
Yay for retired Supreme Court Justice Stevens for chastising in public his former colleagues over the disastrous Citizens United decision, but it's too late for this election cycle.
The pundits are saying that TV is going to decide who our next president is, which is especially ironic given the Fairleigh Dickinson survey that found that people who DON'T watch cable news are better informed about international and domestic issues than those who do.
In other words, the uninformed masses are just sitting there waiting to be influenced by whoever's got the scariest narrator and music.
Thanks, Climegeist, for your thought-provoking and articulate opinion. We are, indeed, in dire straits.
TV has had a major role in deciding the presidential race since the Nixon-Kennedy race. Thus the rise of the consultant, the publicity advisor, and all the other hangers-on and advisors who ensure candidates are "presentable" and look "presidential" and "stay on message". And we get canned speeches with no substance parroting the same old information.
And now we stir in a gazillion dollars of "donations" into organizations who are not accountable for the accuracy of their ads nor subject to stringent requirements to diclose contributors as contributions are made.
Sad day for the common voter. Spoon fed pap guaranteed not to contain relevant policy information and assaulted by attack ads containing half-truths and innuendos.