Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Fantasy Election League

And they’re off. Presidential candidates have been whittled down to fun facts and stats. It’s like they are the newest trading card game.

Romney draws business man and gets +2 support from Goldwater Republicans. Obama uses incumbency to block international politics; opponent cannot get upper-hand unless an international crisis removes the card.

Romney pulls out wife Ann; +4 to the women vote. Democratic strategist goes rogue; Media Blitz; -2 for everyone on all demographics.

Romney’s SuperPAC uses negative advertising; Independent voter turnout decreases by 3; Romney gains +5 Independent voter support.

War on Women. Media storm; all players lose 10 dignity pandering and overblowing. Women lose reproductive rights.

Is it any surprise that voter turnout this year is going to be a begrudging trudge to the polling station? Under what circumstances should the American public feel that their votes matter?

Media coverage has centered almost exclusively on two factors, polls and cash. The polls are a narrow band of coverage that never shows the validity or depth to a side but rather the advantages or disadvantages of campaign strategy. Who cares if someone lies or disregards independent, non-partisan scientific analysis? How the numbers are affected is important--at least from the perspective of the media. Truly though, in some misguided quest to be fair or even-handed, pundits and politicians continue to grind their axes to the tune of the day’s talking points. The only gaffes that get coverage are not matters of fact but rhetorical slip-ups and hot-mic episodes.

The punditry feeds this to the American people as if they aren’t already extraordinarily obese from the insubstantial crap that is our diet. Where is some real fact-checking? Why aren’t those gaffes covered? Why do all issues have precisely two sides? And whatever happened to Ron Paul?

Secondly, the media are poor beagles, sniffing out their noses for mock outrage and shock controversy. They can’t help but shove their snouts in the trash heap that is negative advertising. Hell, the advertising spots eat up 30 seconds of a two minute report already. There is no need for journalistic excellence, just a reporting of inchoate ‘facts’that have no context.

This is a fundamental problem. When the comedians are the astute commentators and traditional media outlets are just cows at the trough going mad eating themselves, there is little hope that the American public will vote with any informed opinion.

It’s appalling that the commentary on SuperPACs is so limited to how they are affecting the campaigns rather than the obviously corrupt and completely disenfranchising nature of these organizations. It’s absurd, which is perhaps why only Colbert and Stewart seem to cover it.

The media has been chasing the latest news as a misguided path to better ratings. Real excellence in journalism requires analysis and deep inquiry. This is an election where the American public sees little reason to participate when the numbers in front of them have predetermined the race. Why play football when there’s a fantasy league right on the tv?