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Electoral Politics in America

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Electoral Politics in America

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America's electoral process is broken. 

by Stephen Lendman

He said, she said, who's ahead, who's behind discourse dominates political reporting. As a result, issues go unaddressed. People are left uninformed in the dark. Media scoundrels focus on popularity, not competence, and what readers and viewers most need to know.

Horse race journalism describes the process. It tells people everything except what's vital to their interests and welfare. Thomas Patterson called it a "quiet revolution" in election reporting. It developed over decades.

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"(G)ame schema" framing elections in terms of strategy and political success rose from 45% in 1960 to over 80% in 1992. In contrast, coverage of policy and leadership dropped from 50% in 1960 to 10% in 1992.

In 2000, other analyses confirmed horse race reporting. Strategy accounted for over 70% of stories. In 2007's first five months, it dominated 63% of print and TV stories, compared to 15% on issues and proposals, and only 1% on candidates' past public performance.

Major media news and opinion are managed. Vital information's suppressed. A truth emergency leaves people uninformed on major issues and candidates' positions on them.

Tracking polls proliferate. They focus on electability. It's easier covering popularity than issues and why they matter.

Scholars fear horse race coverage undermines real issues, leaving voters unable to make informed choices. Moreover, reporting becomes self-reinforcing. It influences candidates' standing compared to opponents. 

It also lets media scoundrels influence outcomes, favoring one or more candidates over others. In addition, it undermines public trust in an increasingly corrupt process.

American-Style Politics

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Electoral fraud's not new. However, as technology improves, outcomes are easier to control. It's simple now with considerable resources backing it. As a result, elections and their run-up are kabuki theater. Major media and PR scoundrels play lead roles. Everything's pre-scripted.

Secrecy and back room deals substitute for a free, fair and open process. Candidates are pre-selected. Big money owns them. Key outcomes are predetermined. Duopoly power runs everything. Democrats are interchangeable with Republicans. Differences between them are minor. Not a dime's worth to matter. 

Both sides support corporate interests, imperial wars, and the divine right of capital to exploit workers, gain new markets, control the world's resources, and rule it unchallenged. Beneficial social change, independent voices, and electoral democracy lose out under a rigged system against them.

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I was born in 1934, am a retired, progressive small businessman concerned about all the major national and world issues, committed to speak out and write about them.

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