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This Election is Not a Soap Opera or a Football Game: It is About the Future of Our Country

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Sen. Bernie Sanders. September 8, 2008.

The corporate media would have us believe, based on their coverage, that the most important issues in this presidential campaign are political tactics and the "character" of the four candidates. But what is at stake right now is not primarily the life stories of Barack Obama, John McCain, Joe Biden or Sarah Palin. An election is not a soap opera which deals with the trials and tribulations of the candidates and their family members. Election coverage must not descend into becoming a pre-game football show, one which deals only with "who's going to win" polling data and never-ending tactical discussions of "what the candidate must do" to win this or that state.

In a democracy, elections are not beauty pageants or reality shows, or soap operas for political junkies. Elections are the real business of democracy, and they should be about real things. 

Without sounding too corny, what this election is about is the well-being of hundreds of millions of Americans and about what kind of country we will be leaving to our kids and grandchildren. And, at a time of global warming and severe environmental problems, this campaign is also about whether our planet survives in a condition that can sustain human life in the decades and centuries to come.

Given all that is at stake, as American citizens we must demand that the media not continue to trivialize our democratic process, dumb down coverage and, in the process, deflect attention away from the most important issues impacting our lives. This election must, first and foremost, be about the needs of the American people. As Vermont's senator and the longest-serving Independent in American congressional history, let me lay out what I believe some of those issues are:

In the United States today, the middle-class is shrinking, poverty is increasing and the gap between the very rich and everyone else is growing wider. There are many economists who believe that, if we do not reverse course, for the first time in modern history our children will have a lower standard of living than their parents. Our country also has the dubious distinctions of having both the highest rate of childhood poverty in the industrialized world and more people in jail than any other country. Question: What specific ideas do the candidates have as to how we can grow the middle class and create good paying jobs, while protecting our children and the most vulnerable members of our society?


In the United States today, 46 million Americans have no health insurance, even more are underinsured, and we are the only major country on earth without universal coverage. Health care costs are soaring despite the fact that we already spend twice as much per person as any other country. Many employers, large and small, are now cutting back on the coverage they provide their employees making a tough economy even tougher for millions of workers. Question: Do the candidates believe that all Americans are entitled to health care as a right of citizenship? What are their plans for assuring that quality health care is delivered in a cost-effective manner? 

Most of the leading scientists in the world believe that global warming, if not reversed, will lead to severe weather disturbances, flooding, drought, hunger, and mass human migration. These scientists also believe that global warming is a more threatening problem than previously perceived, and that bold action is needed to reverse greenhouse gas emissions. Question: Do the candidates believe that global warming is real and a man-made phenomenon? If so, what specific actions are they proposing to reverse global warming? On a related energy issue, what ideas do they have to make our country energy independent?

The United States is now in the sixth year of the war in Iraq, the Taliban is gaining military strength in Afghanistan, the political situation in Pakistan is becoming more unstable, Russia and Georgia have just completed a bloody war, and little progress has been made in easing tensions between Israel and her neighbors. Question: What are the principles that will guide the candidates' foreign policy? What specific steps will they take to combat international terrorism? How will they restore America's position in the international community and help create a more peaceful world?

These are just a few of the major issues facing our nation. I realize there are many more. It seems to me that no matter what our political views are, or what we may consider the most important issues to be, as a democratic society we must demand of the media and the candidates that this campaign focus on the great challenges facing our country and the world. Gossip, melodrama and political tactics just won't do. 

 

Bernie Sanders is the independent U.S. Senator from Vermont. He is the longest serving independent member of Congress in American history. He is a member of the Senate's Budget, Veterans, Environment, Energy, and H.E.L.P. (Health, Education, (more...)
 

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the people would have control over government.The ... by Mark E. Smith on Tuesday, Sep 9, 2008 at 6:20:32 AM
is evidence that Democracy yet lives. He certainly... by John Sanchez Jr. on Tuesday, Sep 9, 2008 at 8:51:22 AM
In a recent quick-link, Facing Veto, Democrats Dro... by Mark E. Smith on Tuesday, Sep 9, 2008 at 3:06:43 PM
taking impeachment "off the table", and ... by John Sanchez Jr. on Tuesday, Sep 9, 2008 at 3:45:57 PM
John Sanchez wrote: What is the... by Mark E. Smith on Wednesday, Sep 10, 2008 at 2:20:40 AM
I compared the result of your actions to the ... by John Sanchez Jr. on Wednesday, Sep 10, 2008 at 9:46:48 AM
John wrote: I compared the result o... by Mark E. Smith on Wednesday, Sep 10, 2008 at 3:57:24 PM
and reiterate that it is people like you who are a... by John Sanchez Jr. on Wednesday, Sep 10, 2008 at 6:04:21 PM
I'd been hoping you would stand by your statem... by Mark E. Smith on Thursday, Sep 11, 2008 at 1:45:59 AM
upholstered with your snark, consider what standin... by John Sanchez Jr. on Thursday, Sep 11, 2008 at 8:37:53 AM
and rejecting rigged elections is not the same as ... by Mark E. Smith on Thursday, Sep 11, 2008 at 3:24:36 PM
We have no political power to demand anything of t... by Jim Eldon on Tuesday, Sep 9, 2008 at 9:35:45 AM
That is exactly what the right-wing neocons are ho... by E. Nelson on Tuesday, Sep 9, 2008 at 10:55:30 AM
If we DO vote, the bad guys will still win. There ... by Mark E. Smith on Tuesday, Sep 9, 2008 at 3:36:41 PM
It is just a big game to big media. Instead of tur... by Kathlyn Stone on Tuesday, Sep 9, 2008 at 9:44:26 AM
Thanks Senator Sanders for all your hard work on &... by E. Nelson on Tuesday, Sep 9, 2008 at 10:43:55 AM
In the selection of Sarah Palin, we see how Karl R... by Gustav Wynn on Tuesday, Sep 9, 2008 at 11:08:20 AM
And the media is beholden to both those in power a... by Cheryl Abraham on Tuesday, Sep 9, 2008 at 11:24:51 AM
Excerpt from F.I.A.S.C.O.: Blood in the Water... by Drew Terry on Tuesday, Sep 9, 2008 at 11:35:23 AM
submitted this as an article. That is the longest ... by Cheryl Abraham on Tuesday, Sep 9, 2008 at 11:44:12 AM
First of all, thank you Bernie Sanders!! Thank you... by Kathryn Smith on Tuesday, Sep 9, 2008 at 12:20:01 PM
But he is not a Saviour or Messiah. He is only one... by Mark E. Smith on Tuesday, Sep 9, 2008 at 3:21:28 PM
bernie does not represent all the interests of his... by Tony Duncan on Tuesday, Sep 9, 2008 at 11:15:58 PM
Thanks for the inside scoop from Vermont. Tony Dun... by Mark E. Smith on Wednesday, Sep 10, 2008 at 2:09:03 AM
This Election is Not a Soap Opera or a Football Ga... by steve scheetz on Tuesday, Sep 9, 2008 at 12:55:46 PM
Steve I know you would like us to believe that but... by E. Nelson on Tuesday, Sep 9, 2008 at 2:57:26 PM
He is beholden to GEhe is beholden to Big Pharmace... by steve scheetz on Tuesday, Sep 9, 2008 at 5:01:15 PM
Far more than just three corporate interests ... by Michael Cavlan on Tuesday, Sep 9, 2008 at 5:36:04 PM
You also might list who's running Him -- Zbign... by boomerang on Tuesday, Sep 9, 2008 at 6:44:45 PM
(Excuse it.  I'm dreaming of running for ... by Margaret Bassett on Tuesday, Sep 9, 2008 at 3:19:56 PM
I submitted the post as a diary entry when I submi... by Drew Terry on Tuesday, Sep 9, 2008 at 7:46:17 PM
...will "decide" the future of "our... by waldopaper on Tuesday, Sep 9, 2008 at 10:03:11 PM
elections and election coverage should be all that... by Rady Ananda on Tuesday, Sep 9, 2008 at 11:45:10 PM
American politics has been both a soap and a ball ... by Ivan Hentschel on Wednesday, Sep 10, 2008 at 1:27:36 PM