Thursday, July 17, 2008

SUMMER PROJECT POST: Political Honesty (oxymoron?)

My first SUMMER POST (concerning deception in politics) generated some thoughtful responses, and I'd like to pursue this further based on your comments.

Several of you concluded that telling the truth can hurt a candidate's chances for election, and that knowing the whole truth might in some cases be traumatic for the public. Why, in "the world's greatest democracy", should this be ? You will enjoy two short opinion-editorials on the subject:

The Perils of Honesty in Politics by Ezra Klein, who cites journalist Michael Kinsley's principle that "a gaffe is when a politician tells the truth."

The Truth About Honesty by Joan Vennochi, who is hopeful that American voters are finally ready for the truth, and claims that "truth telling does seem more likely to occur in the Oval Office if it begins on the campaign trail."

Political satire often gets to the heart of the matter, and (if you haven't already) you should check out JibJab's latest video Time for Some Campaignin'.

Consider these questions:

How much truth can the American public handle? How much do they deserve?

What issues are the presidential candidates tiptoeing around? (Are you following the campaign? Whether or not you will be eligible to vote in November, you have a stake in the election.)

Each candidate has been accused of changing position on certain issues. What issues are they?
What makes a "good" politician?

Finally, is there a better way of choosing an American President? It takes well over 100 million dollars to run a viable Presidential campaign, in which it seems advantageous to avoid the truth (which is often distorted and reduced to sound bites and photo ops). I think that this course has to do with inventing the future, and here's your challenge to invent a new way of selecting our national leader.

Wow, give it a try. I'm looking forward to hearing from you.


Anonymous said...

How much truth can the public handle? well, does anyone really know? The public has never been given that chance, to even understand that limit. In one of the articles, Black (McCain's advisor) said that a terriost attack on the US would benefit McCain. And, only hours later, Burton (Obama's spoke person) was already twisting his words into lies. Of course, Black should've said that differently, but he is human, therefore capable of making mistakes.

What issues have the canidates been sidestepping? Well, Clinton (both of them) always refused to talk about their personal history, their past. Along with President Bush as well. Obama, well, he kinda laid everything out on the line for us. In his book, he talked about what he did in his past; drugs and drinking. He admits that he was young and stupid. High school does that to people. How was he suspose to know while he was getting high that he one day would run for presidency and his opponent would dig that up from his past and use it against him? I think that Obama has been extremely honest with the public so far. But, is he only using that as a strategy to gain voters? Honestly though, speaking in terms of competition, we are going to use whatever we can to get the upper hand. So, in a way, Obama using McCain's age against him while McCain is using Obama's lack of experience against is almost inevitable.

The changes that the canidates have made... I found these at (just click on the name)

US building a physical border
-Pro in 2006, voting for the "Secure a Fence of 2006"
-Con in 2007, saying that a physical border is not the way to resolve this problem.
Same Sex Marriage
-Opposed to amendment in the Constitution banning it, but he is for the Arizona Constitution banning it in their state. So, is he just trying to gain votes by hiding his true feelings on the subject?
Embryonic Stem Cell Research
-Went from Pro in May 2007 to Con in Nov 2007.
Making the tax cuts Bush made permanent
-Went from Con in Apr 2007 to Pro in Dec 2007

The issuse of using military force against Iran if they refuse to disband their nuclear program
-Went from being undecided in Nov 2007 to Con in July 2008
The issue of Marijuana be medical options
-Went from undecided in Nov 2007 to Pro in March 2008

Is there a better way to choose a US President? I don't think the procedure should change, just the way people treat it.

Anonymous said...

wow, that was really long. sorry

Emily. said...

Of course there is a much better way of choosing the president- ASK THE PEOPLE- not the politicians. We choose who REPRESENTS us. I think its corrupted theres a chain or power, and that unless ur a governor or senator- you have no real say. I think we (America) might have distorted Rome's democracy just a bit... and I think we need to revise the government to have more of a PEOPLE's say not a POLITIC's say.

Anonymous said...

I think the American public can handle a lot. It is the news media that make it seem 10X worse than what it really is. A presidential candidate admits to getting drunk with friends in high school way back in 1924, and everyone thinks that the presidential candidate will corrupt our people. This isn't really true but it all depends on how the media displays the issue. I think the people deserve what should be said straight from the source with no interruptions of the media.
The presidetial candidates are always tiptoeing (or in my words, making it sound good when really you know it isn't going to happen hoping not get caught)around money issues. How they feel about the bailout plan. How they will fix our economy. Another thing that the vp candidates are tiptoeing around is foreign policy. The media makes it seem like Palin has no clue of foreign relations, when really if you listen to both Biden and Palin, they are doing the same thing, tiptoeing around.
I think a good politician can view things realistically and set goals that are reasonable.
A new way of selecting our national leader? I think if the candidate can plan, process, and accomplish a big project, televised publicly, to show their effort, determination, and smarts, you can see them at work and how they go about accomplishing things. Another idea, this is completely crazy, but if we take out the seperation of democrats and republicans and everyone be the equal, it would make the nominations easier. Why? All it does is seperate the people and turn them against each other.