I left a response to a post Dustin put up over at Blogs Are About Ego and thought I'd put it over here as well, as a point/counterpoint post. Let the discussion continue:
Why Do the Candidates Continue to Refuse to Talk About Anything
It seems like the election has been a constant contest to seem who can say the least. I'm really amazed that we are only five weeks away from this being over. It feels like they are just getting started. Obama and Biden have really receded from the headlines and McCain is either stealing the headlines with Palin's idiocy (I believe my recent favorite was that she can't name a supreme court case outside of Roe v. Wade), or he's in the news aimlessly attacking Obama. What about what's actually happening, particularly the erosion of American civil liberties. Neither candidate would touch that topic with a ten foot pole. In their defense, it's lethal. What can you say on the topic that wouldn't piss someone off? But isn't that what we really want? I leader who isn't scared of opinion polls or talking about a something that people might get sensitive about? It's a real issue. The Bush administration has slowly but surely given the executive branch increased control of torture, spying, and all intelligence routes through the government. This is a flagrant violation of our constitution, of our rights. Yet, no one really seems to want to prod the candidates into speaking on the subject.
Obama is scared of looking left wing. And McCain has voted with Bush through the entire erosion. (and Obama is not innocent here) Why doesn't someone try to make them talk about it in a debate, or why aren't reporters hitting them with these questions. Katie Couric made Palin look dumb, but Palin has nothing to do with this, she is not a national politician, in my mind she's not much of a politician at all, but that's besides the point. Why can't we actually have an open discussion about these kind of issues in an election year? I think I know the answer, and maybe I'm being naive and idealistic in hoping that this could be possible, but dammit I don't care, I want to hear them speak about this. This may be a great plan for McCain in fact. It seems as though the debate would go to Obama, because McCain has always followed Bush through this erosion of our rights, and anyone that cares would have to side with Obama. But what if Obama can't defend a somewhat patchy track record here? What if he can't speak about it as eloquently as you would imagine? It might be a good chance for McCain to win over some of the liberal vote...try it, see what happens. It won't happen, but it's fun to imagine what kind of democracy you would wish for.
-Dustin Luke Nelson
There's a book by Dana Nelson called "Bad for Democracy" that shows how over decades and decades--not just through the W years--the presidency has sought and received more and more power, throwing the balance of government completely out of whack. The position becomes more and more like that of a king, and all the while the American people have accepted this piracy of the balance originally sought after by our founding fathers. Think of the language we use: "The leader of the free world," "The most powerful position in the land," et al. This is not what the presidency was supposed to be. It was supposed to be just one branch with no more and no less power than the others, or at least it was supposed to be able to be checked and put in line when it stepped out of that line.
But, more specifically in response to this post, you're right, they won't talk about incendiary issues because they cannot afford to piss anyone off who may be on the fence about those issues. It's like when they say "middle class" but never utter the word "poverty." It's spinning what they say to get votes...a watered down version of tackling the tough topics in order to get votes.
The point is, the position of president carries too much power and importance in the average American's mind. Yes, it is important that our representatives actually discuss important issues. But it's even more important that we not rely on them as much as we do to do anything about those important issues.
The fight does not end on November 5th, even if Obama is elected. Yes, we can all breath a sigh of relief if that is the outcome, because we will have taken a step in the right direction. But, and be sure of this, he is not a savior. He cannot undo all that has been done. He will not be able to retroactively give back all the civil liberties lost over the years. And you can be sure that there will be those fighting tooth and nail to keep the powers and tactics they have become accustomed to. The president is not our king and we cannot simply rely on him to answer all of our questions.
-David Luke Doody
When You Get Bored Here, Go Here:
- David Luke Doody
- David Luke Doody is a freelance writer and editor. He is a founding editor of InDigest Magazine (www.indigestmag.com), an online literary magazine and the blog editor for Guernica Magazine (www.guernicamag.com). His writing and interviews have appeared in those magazines as well as in The Huffington Post, mnartists.org, The Minnesota Twins Yearbook, and Intentionally Urban Magazine, among others.
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