Thursday, November 1, 2007

The Media and Voter Education

The information each voter needs prior to entering the polling booth could be split into two distinctions. The first should be issues that the voter feels affects his or her life directly. Of the nominees, the question should be asked, who is going to provide the voter something that will increase the quality of life for that individual? Whether the issue is more money in the pocket, better health coverage or stronger education for his or her children. The second, on a larger scale, is where is this candidate going to lead my country and my family’s future. Short and long term strategies.

The question is, who is going to provide this information. Ideally a good candidate in touch with the citizens should understand common issues that affect the voting public. It should be fairly easy for a nominee to appeal to the voters portraying these intentions. With the vast supporting staff that nominees maintain, including professional PR people, if their homework has been carried out correctly, the candidate’s agenda should be easy to publicize. Of course using the media as a platform will be essential.

In saying that, media attention seems more interested in publicizing other issues today. As our Presidential race heats up, the media appears focused more on who is winning in the donation race, how each nominee needs to get ‘down and dirty’ to gain percentages, and any scandal that can be found in the candidates closet. John Edward has some interesting ideas yet these are overshadowed by the news of an expensive haircut, as with Giuliani and his cross dressing, or Romney and his religious beliefs. Of course the nominee campaign advisors play and influential role too. Karl Rove destroyed a war veteran in John Kerry by using slander to undermine his credibility, to name only one of Rove’s many victims.

Political candidates play into this absurdity too. Always trying to portray an image suggested by a campaign advisor. One of the oldest tricks was to kiss a baby, which fortunately seems to have faded recently. However a candidate must appeal to all members of society and therefore needs to invoke an image somehow to each and every one of us. At every given chance there is a photo op or media event. As each ‘circus’ roles into town the local media is given front row seats, and the major news outlets have reporters actually traveling with the nominees for that instant breaking smile. The season of debates is upon us although I do feel that nobody since Kennedy has triumphed well in these spectacles.

What would do this incredible political phenomenon justice would be to stop all of the ‘Hollywood’ style coverage and to really sit down with candidates and let them know what the people need. CNN have tried something on these lines with their ‘YouTube’ questioning. However the stage has not been conducive to real politics for this to be a true success. As per the article by Dave Iverson and Tom Rosenthal, if issues are personal based, the public attention can be captured. What is needed now is to capture the candidate too. The media can play an important role in creating this, but they do need to mediate without the showmanship.