Friday, May 05, 2006

The Conversation Of Democracy Has Been Desiccated

The Mechanics of Manipulation #3

“The conversation of democracy has been desiccated [pulverized; lacking in energy or vitality]. To bring it back to life, break the monopoly of broadcast and cable television.”

-- Al Gore        

In the political arena, the “pollster-consultant industrial complex” [coined by Joe Klein] has had the same effect: lack of spontaneity, test-tube bromides, insipid photo ops, and idiotic advertising combined to pass for political discourse.

Joe Klein suggests that, with the help of public clamor, a more focused and independent media, and the passionate desire of a few, somebody with the following qualities could emerge to become our next president:
The winner will be the candidate who comes closest to this model: a politician who refuses to be a "performer," at least in the current sense. Who speaks but doesn't orate. Who never holds a press conference on or in front of an aircraft carrier. Who doesn't assume the public is stupid or uncaring. Who believes in at least one major idea, or program, that has less than 40% support in the polls. Who can tell a joke—at his or her own expense, if possible. Who gets angry, within reason; gets weepy, within reason ... but only if those emotions are real and rare. Who isn't averse to kicking his or her opponent in the shins but does it gently and cleverly. Who radiates good sense, common decency and calm. Who is not afraid to deliver bad news. Who is not afraid to admit a mistake. And who, above all, abides by the motto that graced Franklin Delano Roosevelt's Oval Office: let unconquerable gladness dwell.

Al Gore has said that he's enjoying his focus on the climate crisis as a person outside the political arena and he's not thinking of becomming a candidate for president in 2008. However, he said, if ever he did run again, he wouldn't let himself be so dependent on political consultants. He might use them to get things done, but not to guide him on what to do. After all, the members of the American Association of Political Consultants are, after all, just vendors.

There is real momentum for change on the political side. Nighttime talk shows have increased their pokes at President Bush; Gore's movie and book about global warming will shortly be in the limelight; Laurie David's Stop Global Warming Virtual March is gaining traction as are many other similar global warming issue-specific organizations. On the business side, there's increased interest in ethical investing and money is flowing to those type of funds. Also, and most important, mid-term elections are getting people to express their fears, reservations, disgruntlements and wants - with their voting.

Breaking the monopoly of broadcast and cable television is harder to fix but serious, independent minds are working on it. Al Gore includes the topic and the need for change in every one of his talks and Paul Jay, with determined and credible backing, is attempting to start IWT News, an independent world television network.

My final words on this manipulation topic will follow soon . . .