The more I listen to politics—both commentaries and the news—the more I’m thinking through just how much our electoral process has changed and how our leaders are chosen.
I was recently browsing an article that talked about the Lincoln-Douglas Debates and how much political discourse has changed since then.
I’m not sure if it was the advent of television on the scene or what that has changed how we choose our leaders, but it has had a big impact.
I can remember hearing about the effect of television on a Presidential debate when it came to the Nixon vs. Kennedy debates and depending on how you consumed it (radio or television) you had a different idea of who won.
It was said that part of Reagan’s appeal was that he knew how he looked in a camera from all angles, and was able to “reach through” the screen and seem like he was communicating with you in person.
Now, a lot of what candidates say is for sound bites. Attack ads can change the standings in polls quickly. And your opponent can never have a better idea.
Part of the problem is that our elected leaders have put partisanship over solving America’s problems. It’s not wrong to have differences of opinion, but when the time comes to make a decision, our leaders should be asking “What’s best for America?” and not “What will get me reelected?”
The best leaders are servants. Today’s leaders pretend they’re servants, and use the term servants, but live like princes. They don’t have to hold their own jobs (for the most part) and they’re pretty insulated from the day to day struggles—I don’t care which candidate or which part your for, it’s just true.
Which brings me back to what started this post. At some point it has become more important to make sure people believe that you’re going to win than what you’re saying and what you believe. We have sound-bite wars and polls that constantly tell us who might when when the election happens.
It’s folly—but everyone realizes that most people like to vote for the winner rather than vote their conscience. So they spend hours in print, on talk radio, and anywhere else someone will listen attempting to paint their guy as winning or coming from behind and the other guy as losing—hoping that people will believe them and go with their natural feelings.
Let’s face it, if we truly wanted to fix the system there’d be a lot we’d have to do:
- Get rid of polling data. The only poll that matters is the one that’s done on election day.
- Have substantive debates. Who cares whether it fits in a television hour? We need to hear what these people truly believe.
- Have more choices. Two people to choose from is ridiculous. Everyone that’s on the ballots should be at the debate.
- Voting restrictions. People should be engaged in the process to vote. Too much voting is done by people that have no clue except what letter is next to the person’s name.
What would you do to fix the system?