The faces of American politics

19May08

Understanding the American political system is like wading through treacle, unless you take time to understrand it for yourself.

Perhaps this is because most of the mainstream media are in thrall to all the razzamatazz and adversarialism of presidential contests, but fail to explain the political process.

First off, the primaries are open only to votes from the two main parties, and therefore fix the gaze of the World’s media on their own agendas to the detriment of non-party candidates.

The recent Democratic candidate election sideshow helped to mould press coverage over the existing political landscape, and so further entrenched the power of the powerful.

The media machine

There is no room for independents or independent agendas, only endless mud-slinging and conjecture; huge media conglomerates like Fox News and the 24 new-media factories they bring with them help to dominate and manufacture political language and discourse to this end.

And celebrity-obsessed American media outlets like Time Magazine ensure that domestic politics is always couched in terms of personality.

Furthermore, reputedly intelligent newspapers like the New York Times are surely inaccessible to the many people – especially minorities – who have been failed by America’s public education system.

Courting celebrity

The most potent example of the manufactured celebrity is perhaps Henry Kissinger during the mid-1970s, and his love affair with Playboy and Time Magazines; so much so, infact, nobody noticed he was complicit in the illegal bombing of Cambodia, the rise of the khmer Rouge, and the  military funding of General Suharto’s genocidal regime in Indonesia.

Henry Kissinger on Time Magazine

A real free press

A democracy should be freely used and understood by a country’s citizenry: a country that elects its presidents by collegiate voting, and a mass-media that consistently fails to address this democratic deficit or resist the spoon-feeding of information from Democrat and Republican press machines, have failed their people.

For these reasons, I would thoroughly recommend reading the brave Wichita Star Eagle for its willingness to question established norms. During the last presidential election, for example, they dared to question the new electronic voting machines, and the affiliations its manufacturers had with the Republican Party.

Aside from that, John Pilger’s doumentary The War on Democracy, is essential viewing. Here, he explains the historical context of both American foreign policy and its domestic political system.

The more populist Michael Moore also establishes some persuasive arguments about the complacency of the American mass-media in his Films Fahrenheit 911 and Bowling for Columbine.

Michael Moore on the cover of one of his films

Perhaps, however, we should not invest so much trust in the mass-media to educate us about American politics. The only solution, as always, is to look with our own eyes, though we should not always believe what we see.

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