Our Sleazy Political Mess

by Kevin E. Ready Sr.

I was asked by a friend on Facebook what can be done about the current disgusting political climate in our country, where we have two candidates who have significant negatives and fail to inspire the general populace and where most of the electorate is unhappy with the options and worried about the future. The problem is that the reforms people yearn for in the current political system are antithetical to the interests of the powerful moneyed interests that control the system on both sides. Both sides use the dark money. Both sides have mastered the existing game. That was actually a large part of Bernie Sanders message. You cannot expect an elected official who attained political office with the help of a Super Pac to earnestly seek to destroy that system that created their political career. When you hear a Democrat vowing to fight the “Citizens United” decision, look at his or her campaign contributions to see if they practice what they preach. When you hear a Republican vow to fight the “Washington Insiders” check out where their campaign money came from. I think Sanders was right when he said it is going to take a revolution to change things. Every individual who hates the current system must stand up and speak and maybe run for office themselves. Tell your local candidates that you will not contribute to them if they take special interest money. If you cannot find a clean politician, fill out the papers to run yourself.

Another thought — I think a large part of the current problem has to do with the changes that have occurred in the news media. Both the 24/7 news cycle and instant Internet communication with no valid way to critique the lies have engendered that current crop of outlandish mud slinging. Powerful moneyed interests have bought CNN, Fox, NBC and all the other broadcast, cable and internet news channels. It is in their financial interest for the news to be outrageous and appealing to the largest audience. News stories about stalwart, sensible people trying to run a clean campaign do not make headlines and cannot be counted as “breaking news.” On the other hand, the sleaziest, crudest rumors about powerful people drives people to watch. And, we are constantly bombarded on Facebook and Twitter with posts and reposts of absolutely lurid claims and announcements that are outright lies. Many of my Facebook friends re-post articles and pictures they know are false, but which they find as cute, provocative or poignant. This is not a minor thing, I believe fully 50% of what I see in political Tweets and FB posts are outright lies. The problem is that this false “news” generates an emotional response from both sides and degrades that ability of anyone to have a thoughtful discussion of the real issues and facts. Donald Trump is the logical heir to this dynamic of outrageous hyperbole, sleazy headlines, disgusting “breaking news” and misinformation. We deserve what we allowed to happen.

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