August 14, 2022

Managing the “Winner”


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.

 Television’s Effect

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.

Popularity Contest

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?

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3 thoughts on “Managing the “Winner”

  1. Well… I’d like to point out a few viewpoints about the issues at hand that I disagree with.

    You state that all candidates are necessarily pretend to be servants but live like princes. Well, I used to believe that as well. I was so disillusioned with American politics and politicians. Then I started hearing about Ron Paul. If you haven’t made a thorough investigation into Ron Paul’s political platform then you own it to your country to do so, especially as someone making political commentary on a popular website.

    Now let me address your solutions and propose some of my own.

    – Get rid of polling data: Well, it seems to me there’s nothing wrong with objectively reporting polling data. The problem is more specifically the lesser-of-two-evils to pop-politics.

    Democrats are lobbying around Obama because they see McCain as 4 more years of Bush. Most have no real idea of his political platform. And Republicans are rallying around McCain because they are concerned Obama will make sweeping new social reforms and affirmative action. Most do not actually know McCain’s platform, they just assume he’s for smaller government because that’s the ‘traditional’ Republican stance.

    Each party is rallying for their candidate out of fear that the candidate from the other side will win and ruin everything. This mass hysteria is orchestrated carefully by the media. Politics today are more about personalities and personal history than they are about policies and issues.

    The solution? We need to address the real issue in the popular American psyche. We need to educate the masses and raise up a generation in America that is responsible and accountable to educate themselves politically and in the related fields.

    But we can’t rely on our government to do this, and we can’t rely on our major media corporations to do this and we can’t rely on our schools to do this. We have to do this as a people. And there are roadblocks standing in the way, but mainly they are ideological in nature.

    If we were properly educating our youth to think critically and logically, and to be self-educating, responsible and accountable for their own futures and the future of this great nation, the muck-mire politics of the day would never stand because the American people would have too much common sense to allow it. In an educated America, mudslinging would not be well greeted, it would be quickly dismissed along with the candidate-antagonist.

    – Have Substantive Debates. Yes. However, as above, we can’t just wave a magic wand and make the debates substantive, and we can’t just implement a set of rules (the politicians will writhe their way around the rules anyway.) We have to build up a society that seeks, desires, hungers and thirsts for a substantive debate. We have to restore reason and integrity in the minds of the American people.

    – Have More Choices. Yes. Of course, we actually do have many choices, it’s a matter of the American people BELIEVING they have more choices. People actually consider Ron Paul a non-choice for example, but we can still vote for him. There is no reason for the American people to adhere to the two party system (or should I say two-candidate system) except that they see no other option.

    That reminds me of a story. A group of scientists got together to do a sociological study on chimpanzees. They put several in a room and in the center of the room was a ladder leading to a bunch of bananas hanging from the ceiling.

    Whenever a chimp would climb the ladder to reach the bananas, someone would turn on a fire hose and knock the chimp off the ladder. Eventually the chimps stopped climbing the ladder.

    Next the scientists would remove a chimp and replace it with one that never knew about the fire hose. When this chimp tried to climb the ladder, other chimps would stop it from doing so.

    Well, the experiment went on until all the chimps who had actually seen the firehose were replaced with fresh chimps. Yet they still never climbed the ladder, and if any new chimp did try to climb the ladder, the others would stop it. Why? Because they no longer knew WHY they didn’t climb the ladder, they just knew THAT they didn’t climb the ladder.

    Similar to the American political psyche, don’t you think?

    We don’t know WHY we have a two party system anymore (although it’s written in those history books nobody reads anymore and the schools just gloss over.) We just know THAT we have a two party system.

    Voting Restrictions. No. Who are you, and what country are you from? In America the idea is NOT to restrict voters. Now, enough sensationalism, let me address your suggestion with intellectual integrity.

    You are correct that too much voting is done by people who only care what letter is next to the name. However, is the solution to the problem to restrict the vote?

    If you are going to restrict the vote, who will decide who is restricted and who is allowed? Who will design the system by which that is judged? What rules and laws will be written to be sure it’s done properly? Who, in the government, do you REALLY trust to have the integrity to decide who should vote and who should not?

    No party or ruling cabinet can be trusted with this authority because to do so would subvert the checks and balances laid out in the Constitution. Any ruling authority that would pick and choose who vote and who does not or place restrictions on it’s voters cannot in the same breathe claim to be democratic or republican.

    The fact is that to address the real issues we face in America today will take extraordinary effort on the part of anyone and everyone who has an interest in their liberties and those of their fellow man. We can’t leave politics alone, and we can’t leave them to a once in 4 year obligation. If anyone has a concern for liberty they must that a pro-active approach, study the constitution, study American history, study political science, study economics, and investigate thoroughly not just the personal life of a politician, but their voting record and their political platform. And then one must lobby the American people, encouraging them to educate themselves, and must educate one’s fellow citizens of the real issues at stake. One cannot section politics to a small insignificant role in their lives, assuming that freedom will remain free and liberty will never fail. ANY system left to itself will always degrade over time, and that goes for the political systems that ensure our liberties as well.

    Arthur Eisss last blog post..Confiscation Through Inflation

  2. I like the idea of more choices, but I think a lot of people vote for the major parties simply because they are trying to make sure the opposing candidate doesn’t win (“lesser of two evils”).

    You hit the nail on the head about people wanting to back a winner. It doesn’t matter on policy or premise, it’s just who is going to get in the White House.

    I personally am SICK of all the partisan mess. We only have politicians, we no longer have statesmen (and women). I want to believe the McCain will always put the country’s best interest at heart. I wanted to believe the same thing about Bush Jr. But we’ll never know the depth of what goes on behind closed doors. I’m ready for someone to take a stand and say, “Forget the party and forget if this will cost me re-election, it’s time to do something that is good for the people.”

    Then again, maybe we’re on the cusp of the end times and we just need to get used to this… who knows? Are politics cyclical? Will we eventually fall so low that reformers will come in and make our country as great as it once was? (It’s late and I’m running off at the brain here…)

    Rachels last blog post..Fickle Fay

  3. @Arthur Eiss: I wrote a whole long comment, and it disappeared into the ether. So I’ll just correct one misconception, and we can take this debate further in smaller chunks.

    The America you live in has voting restrictions, and has had tougher voting restrictions throughout time. Right now, you have to be a citizen, non-felon (in some places), who is over 18 in order to vote. At the founding you had to be a male land-owner.

    What would I propose? Something that isn’t voting for a person with a party affiliation. Perhaps making people actually vote for an elector instead of the Presidential candidate himself. Perhaps a voting test which would show you who best reflects your beliefs (with appropriate paper trail, and the ability to choose from others). Something to try to mitigate the whole “put ’em in the bus, and have them vote.

    As for Ron Paul– he’s not on any ballot, and writing him in would be the equivalent of writing in MInTheGap or not voting at all. It’s meaningless because Ron Paul has no electors, and will not be counted.

    @Rachel: There are options, but there’s a monopoly on the media. The Republicans and Democrats set the rules for the debates. The media only cover “those that have a chance to win.

    I don’t want the government to try to fix the problem– government is the problem. I believe that if we could fix the election process, however, we’d be able to make inroads.

    If a third party candidate ever made it big we’d see big changes. This would have been the perfect year to do it too.

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