Monday, June 3, 2013
The 2000 election revisited
Robert McChesney and John Nichols did a review of the War on Iraq and the 2004 election that may shed some light on how we elect our presidents and start wars with the help of the Mass media in their book “Tragedy and Farce”. This type of review may be helpful in a truth commission to understand whether or not we are electing our politicians in a rational way or not however I suspect that it might be more helpful to review the 2000 election. In the aftermath of 9/11 many people may have forgotten most of what happened during that election already. When reminded they might remember the Florida recount scandal most but that wasn’t even half the problem with that election. The 2000 election was carried out in an absurd manner right from the beginning. If this is what passes for a democratic election in the USA then the state of democracy is in serous trouble.
(The majority of this post originally appeared as a part of a Truth and Education Commission post from April 10 2010; there have been some additional comments added based on events since then. Additional excerpts from that post were already riposted including an abbreviated Truth and Education Commission post )
An election is supposed to be the way the public chooses their leaders in a democratic way and these leaders are supposed to stand up for the best interest of the public but the public receives very little if any knowledge about the most important issues during any given election cycle and the 2000 election may be one of the most absurd elections in history. For starters on any given election the Mass Media starts telling the public who the viable candidates are months if not years ahead of time. The members of the public make little or no effort to change this and help decide for themselves who should run. If someone wants to be president and the Mass Media doesn’t give them any coverage they haven’t got a chance to get the attention of the public and win which essentially means that the Mass Media has veto power over who can run for president. Reviewing the way the Mass Media covers election should help us understand what is wrong with our democracy and fix it.
The 2000 election was a long series of absurd activities passing for a campaign to elect one candidate or another. These activities include a lot of coverage of polls that seemed to tell the public that the nominees would inevitably be Bush and Gore even before the primaries happened. They were portrayed as the front runners from the begging. When John McCain won New Hampshire by going on a bus tour and carrying out a series of discussions directly with the public this was considered a great upset. Since then John McCain has gotten back in line with the establishment and he put his support behind Bush most of the time. This is part of what enabled him to get the support of the Republican Party and gain the nomination in 2008, w2hen it was clear to many voters that the "straight talk express" was ancient history and many of us might have doubts about whether or not that "straight talk would have continued if the media had allowed him to gain the nomination and the White House.
The Bush campaign went on to other states with a massive advertising campaign to discredit John McCain by using attack ads that had little if any credibility but the Mass Media didn’t do nearly enough to point out how much distortion they were using so a large percentage of the public made up their minds on who to vote for based on an absurd set of lies. This was how the Bush money machine with their campaign rangers who raised one to three hundred thousand dollars each ran a campaign to obtain votes. The election was based not on any effort to educate the public but a massive effort to carpet-bomb the public with propaganda in the form of campaign commercials. Since the Mass media was making a fortune off of these ads they had little incentive to hold the campaigns accountable.
This included an ad which used subliminal messages to call Al Gore a rat. This was followed up by a lot of media coverage. There was a debate where they allowed ordinary citizens to ask the candidates questions but they had to submit their questions in writing and get them approved first. this has become common place in politics and more recently when Kelly Ayotte held a town meeting someone spoke up about not liking the fact that the questions were being screened and they quickly went on to the issue of gun control when he commented about how she was willing to regulate the questions she receives but not guns. There was a little attention drawn in the mass media to the fact that screening questions were now routine once they started focusing on the gun control issue; nor was there any reminder of the fact that they often criticized this tactic when other countries that the US opposed used it.
This essentially meant that the control of the election system wasn’t really in the hands of the public; if a member of the public had the opportunity to ask an important question and the Media didn’t want to report on it they wouldn’t and only those present to hear the answer would know about it. There was an incident where both Al Gore and George Bush were asked what they would do if a convicted murder who received the death penalty was pregnant at the time. In stead of thinking about the question and pointing out the flaws in it both candidates provided an answer they thought would be in line with their position of abortion. Bush replied that he would have allowed the mother to have the baby before executing her; and Gore said he would allow her to choose whether or not to have her baby before executing her. The fact that the two leading candidates couldn’t put more thought into the question than that should raise some serious questions.
At one of the debates Al Gore marched up to Bush in an intimidating way before answering a question. In an interview after woods Bush said he "thought he was going to hit me.” There were many reports about how Condoleezza Rice was tutoring Bush because he knew little if anything about world affairs. There were a couple of incidents where the media gave Bush a “pop quiz” implying correctly that he knew little about much of anything. The toughest questions he received during the campaign before a national audience probably didn’t come from a reporter but they came from David Letterman. Bush showed up expecting this to be fun and games and he seemed surprised when he encountered tougher questions from a comedian than he ever encountered from any one else.
The was a lot of focus on the death penalty and the fact that Bush was governor of a state that was fast tracking the death penalty minimizing opportunity for appeals. This included one example where a person who was almost certainly innocent of the crime he was sentenced for was executed. This was Gary Graham who was tried and convicted of two major crimes one of which he was sentenced to life the other to death. There was no doubt that he committed the crime he was sentenced to life for; he even confessed to it. This involved an incident during a robbery spree when he shot some one and seriously maimed him for life but since this person didn’t die it wasn’t a death penalty case. The crime he executed for was another story where he was put in a line up and there were some doubts raised about the validity of the identification before it was done. There were two other witnesses who said it wasn’t Gary Graham but they weren’t interviewed by Graham’s lawyer and Bush refused to consider this when deciding not to pardon him. Many people may think that he did another crime which was bad enough and that person could have died so he deserved it any way but this still means that they are making their decisions on false facts and the real killer got away with it.
There was also a scandal about one of his faith based institutions that he supported that was implicated in abusing children. These people were not held accountable since they were a faith based institution the belief was they should be held to the same standards as a secular institution. There is a lot of evidence to indicate that this type of abuse leads to more violence later in the life of these children which means they will probably contribute to crime later in their life. There were plenty of stories about Bush’s business dealings most of which wound up losing money yet he wound up making a profit any way due to help from campaign contributors of his father who later became his campaign contributors.
There was reporting on the way Bush avoided going to Nam by joining the national guard then didn’t report to duty on many occasions. He wasn’t held accountable presumably due to connections through his father. Ironically they re visited this issue in the 2004 campaign with forged documents that turned out to be for Bush's benefit since it enabled him to portray himself as the victim; but even though they relied on forged documents the information in them was accurate and could have been supported by other sources. It is hard to imagine why they would have made such a fuss about this but the results were to confuse the issue and make it appear as if the scandal was based on forged documents distracting people from the more important scandal involving Bush's record.
At the last minute there was a story about a DWI that Bush was charged with. The only thing missing was the sincere questions about serious issues that people need to make rational decisions. This is just a small sample of the things that happened during that election before the Florida controversy.
A close look at the Florida controversy may indicate that in addition to the fact that the people didn’t have the information they needed to make a rational decision the decision the did make may not have been honored. Thousands of people seemed to have voted for Pat Buchanan in a county that was strongly against him due to a confusing ballot that put his name close to Gore’s. there were many other irregularities that may not have been corrected partly due to the activities of Katherine Harris, Jeb Bush and the members of the Supreme Court that were appointed by republican presidents including George H W Bush. Four years later after Bush won a second term the Daily Mirror asked “How can 59,054,087 people be so dumb?” This question could just as easily be asked about the 2000 election for the people that voted for both Bush and Gore since there were almost as many problems with Gore’s record.
The assumption that we should choose between two candidates who behave in such and absurd manner is insane. Their were other candidates that were on the ballot in a large part of the country that included Pat Buchanan and Ralph Nader who were presented to the public by the Mass Media as fringe candidates who didn’t have a chance; however they weren’t the only other candidates at that time. John Hagelin, Howard Phillips and Harry Browne were also on the ballot in a large enough part of the country to win. None of these candidates had a chance due to the fact that the Mass Media indoctrinated the public into believing they would be a wasted vote therefore they had to vote for the most corrupt Democrat, Al Gore, or the most corrupt Republican, George Bush.
Considering a ballot with proportionate representation would help solve this problem since the voter would know that even if their first choice didn’t win their second choice candidate would apply. This wouldn’t mean they have two votes since the second choice doesn’t apply unless the first choice is rejected. This would enable the public to influence the choice of candidates when the two leading parties get too corrupt they could vote for an alternative party. Another way to improve the system could involve setting up an interview process which was controlled by members of the public. They could create a job application similar to what vote smart does and control a interview process where candidates would be invited to show up and answer questions from the public. If they decline to fill out the application or show up for the interviews they wouldn’t be eligible to be on the ballot. This would be more like a job interview than a campaign which perhaps is what we should have been doing all along. No employer would ever allow the applicant to control the hiring process yet that is exactly what we’ve been doing all along.
After the 2000 election the absurdity continued and even escalated in some ways even before 9/11 although most people may have forgotten. There were several foreign policy incidents which were handled badly including incidents with Russia and China and the cutting off of relations with Korea for no clear reason except for the fact that a new president was in office. In order to understand the break off in relation with Korea it would help to remember what happened in 1999/2000 with Korea. There were negotiations with Korea to develop better relations with the help of former president Jimmy Carter. They managed to come to a tentative agreement that would improve the relationship and allow weapons inspectors to confirm compliance with non nuclear proliferation agreements among other things.
Another related incident which received very little attention at the time was the fact that the primary reason used by the USA not to confirm the international ban on land mines was that they needed this option to maintain security in Korea. Regardless of whether or not this is a legitimate excuse it would have been a matter of time before they no longer could claim this as a justification for declining to approve this treaty. This would mean that thousands of innocent children, who are among those most likely to be injured by landmines, would still be at risk of death and severe injury due to the activities of the USA government. This should also be taken into consideration when reviewing the current situation with North Korea which is now being portrayed as an enemy. This almost certainly could have been avoided if these talks were continued instead of antagonizing them.
Similar activities have also happened with Iran; instead of taking opportunities to resolve their difference while they had a more moderate president they antagonized them by naming both North Korea and Iran as part of the "Axis of Evil" and Obama continues to hype up the threats despite his campaign promises to oppose wars based on lies.
George Bush’s foreign policy never improved however after 9/11 the way he was perceived changed dramatically. This wasn’t because he became any more experienced or did a better job; instead it was because the emotional responses from the public sky rocketed and the rational thinking plummeted due to the attack and the massive amount of propaganda that was fed to the public.
One thing that very few people have even considered in a high profile manner is how incompetent these campaigns are bad how absurd they are; and perhaps more important if they could have done a less obvious job with their propaganda, why didn't they? In 1999 it was incredibly obvious that both these candidates were severely flawed; if they wanted to provide a candidate that would do a better job at least appearing to represent the public so it wouldn't be so obvious it is hard to believe that they couldn't have done so. The simplest explanation for this might be that the dominant people making these decisions don't listen to those that disagree with them and that they're incredibly sheltered. If that is the case then it might mean that a relatively small number of authoritarian people are making the decisions and getting the advice of those that do research into psychological and political manipulation and propaganda but tehy might not be willing to listen to the best research.
Regardless of why these campaigns are so bad they have only gotten even worse since then; although unlike Robert McChesney and John Nichols my impression was that even though the 2004 election was pretty bad it couldn't match the absurdities that went on in 2000; however the elections in 2010 and 2012 did. If anything Mitt Romney might have been even more pathetic than either George Bush or Al Gore; which is the only reason that Barack Obama seemed more rational and sincere by comparison.
It is virtually guaranteed that the political establishment will try the same exact trick over again in upcoming elections; and there will be an enormous amount of people that criticize Barack Obama coming to the defense of the next Democratic nominee even though he or she will almost certainly do the same things but they will claim he or she is better than the alternative which might be even worse than Romney. And of course others will be making the same argument on the Republican side.
Regardless of how or why they have become so absurd the result is that a large number of people have begun to recognize it and part of the result was the massive protest movement that has grown, including the Arab Spring, Wisconsin protests and the Occupy Wall Street protests. These haven't led to major electoral changes yet, as many of us hoped, but the protest continue to happen on a regular bases although the media coverage has faded those that check the alternative media outlets are aware of them and they may recognize that the commercial media is continuing to get worse along with the political system.
Those that call for reform before opposing the Democratic candidate might agree that more needs to be done now if wee are going to avoid falling for the same scam once again. Once more people realize that all these protests continue without media coverage I suspect that it might be a matter of time before there is another wave of coordinated protest that rise up simultaneously like they did in September 2011 and it will almost certainly be sooner than many people expect. If this does happen it could lead to major changes which we desperately need as those who pay attention to the alternative media might realize.
Fool me once shame on you; how long before we learn to stop getting fooled over and over again; or at least try not to be fooled again?