Editorial, Opinion

STAFF EDIT: Feeding the media farm

This year’s presidential election promises to be one of the most crucial in history. It’s been said before, but this year the short- and long-term fate of our country and many others will truly be determined by the next president’s policies. But, judging by the media coverage of the campaigning and debating, Americans seem to be more interested in which candidate produces the next big gaffe than the next big idea. In the vicious cycle of public interest and media coverage, many major election issues have taken a backseat to sensational mistakes and personal issues that mirror those of celebrities.
In an ideal world, presidential candidates ‘-‘- and all politicians, for that matter ‘-‘- would have been elected by their ability to lead and provide prosperity, and nothing else. Their personalities would not factor into a decision that will decide the fate of the nation and the world. Unfortunately, such is not the case in America, and voters are easily distracted by the slightest controversy, however irrelevant.
And while voters’ priorities are decisively skewed in favor of political entertainment, it is also the many media outlets that are feeding into the cycle, providing up-to-the-minute reports on such off-topic happenings like Sarah Palin’s children and Barack Obama’s religion. Neither of these things affect the candidates’ viability, regardless of the logical acrobatics some may make to the contrary.
When it comes to the raw issues ‘-‘- the ones the next president will work to address ‘-‘- the media do provide coverage, but it is often hard to find. Even this past week, as both Obama and John McCain made changes to their platforms to adjust to the cold truth that the government will not be able to afford more ambitious initiatives during an economic downturn, the top story was Sarah Palin’s expensive clothing and the resulting aftermath of its exposure.
The problem is that many news sources have become dominated by commentary, which gives a relatively mundane news story about clothing a life of its own. Such superficial fare dominates the news for weeks, while the story about both candidates’ drastic cuts in their health care and tax break plans died within a few days.
The candidates’ campaigns themselves own a share of the blame when it comes to America’s distracted voters. From the beginning, and even more so as Nov. 4 approaches, the presidential race has been filled with personal attacks, irrelevant questions and needless controversies presented by the politicians themselves. Valuable debate time was utterly wasted in both recent debates by the candidates defending themselves from personal attacks, and, in fact, attacks on their campaigns.
The election is less than a week away. Many voters have no clue where the candidates stand on health care, foreign policy, taxation and long-term economic planning. And yet, it’s a challenge to find someone who hasn’t heard of Bristol Palin. It isn’t too late for non-absentee voters to do some real research and become informed about the choice they will make, but how many will actually do it?
The politicians, on the other hand, stand nothing to lose at this point by halting all mudslinging and personal attacks. A week of presenting the issues ‘-‘- and only the issues ‘-‘- would send a message that this election is vital and important. The future of the nation and world hangs in the balance.

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