Thursday, October 15, 2015

A review of The First Democratic National Debate

I've been watching Democratic Debates. I tried to watch it live that night, but Daddy Duty called and I could not stick with it. So I've been searching for and streaming the version available on YouTube, which you can find here (unfortunately, that video was taken down by Time Warner CNN). Ironically, it was posted by DonaldTrumpTV and happens to be the best version that I can find.  I ended my viewing of the debates by watching a blurry, lower resolution video here.

I note with interest that CNN is not promoting the viewing of the debate after the debate. I searched their website and could not find it. I would expect to see a good version of it prominently displayed on their home page, but did not see it. I didn't see the GOP debate, either. I just checked again this morning. I found if you click on their Videos link from the home page, they do prominently display links to videos from the debate.

Interestingly, they do have clips that are easily viewed. But unless you have a cable or satellite subscription, you will not be able to watch the entire debate. I don't have satellite and I don't have cable. So, I'm outta luck. Apparently, as far as CNN is concerned, public discourse is a commercial business, not a vital exercise of a democracy. That would make sense coming from the Cable News Network.

I also want to report the sense of betrayal I feel by the major media. They've given the debate the same treatment as the GOP debate hosted by CNN previously. To put it very bluntly, the major media have turned our debates into a spectacle like American Idol. Don't get me wrong, American Idol is great for musically talented contestants seeking a $1 million recording contract with a major label. It doesn't work for the solemn duty we have as citizens, to select our next president.

To get an idea of what I mean, compare this latest debate with the debate between President Jimmy Carter and candidate Ronald Reagan in 1980. There is no music, no dramatic lighting, no cross talk, and the audience is quiet during the debate. No applause, no whooping and yelling in support of your candidate. That was the way we used to do them. It was all about the issues then. Now it's bread and circuses.

While listening to the opening remarks of the candidates, O'Malley, Chafee and Webb all try to be polished and upbeat. Clinton is as polished as ever having been the wife of one of the best speakers as president ever, Bill Clinton. Let's face it, he was amazing as a speaker. All of them sound like people who are going to deliver like Santa Claus. If you're looking for fire, look to Sanders. Sanders is the only candidate on stage with real emotion about his cause.

I note with interest the nearly complete lack of discussion of two really big topics: Campaign finance reform and the trade deficit. No direct question was ever asked about the issue of campaign finance reform, though there was plenty of discussion of it in vague terms. Despite all the talk, there was only one candidate that would talk about it vigorously and bluntly. Sanders made it clear that no matter how good the ideas being discussed on stage are, nothing is going to change unless we reform campaign finance and get big money out of politics. This is the point that Larry Lessig, had he been invited, would have used in every response.

Then there is the trade deficit. No direct question was asked about how to deal with the trade deficit. Oh sure, everyone talked about how they would create jobs, but none addressed the trade deficit directly. The trade deficit sucks more than $500 billion of demand every year from our economy, with the 1% taking their cut while leaving the middle class with nothing. I posted a question on the CNN Facebook page regarding the trade deficit, but few viewer questions were actually posed to the contestants in the debate.

I want to close on the disconnect between social media and major media. Where major media insists that Hilary won the debate, social media disagrees. An article at the USUncut website gives examples of the major media gushing over Hilary and then proceeds to show that by every available measure, Bernie won the debates in social media. The meme floating around for months now is that "the revolution is real, but it won't be televised".

To underscore the point of how Bernie won the debate in social media, Forbes is running an article to show that Bernie Sanders added 35,000 new followers on Twitter during the debate. That is nearly 12,000 more than all of the other candidates, combined. Sanders on social media has translated into $1.3 million in contributions from 37,000 people averaging about $34 each just from one debate.

This is just one of six debates and many wish there could be more, but it's a start. The fire is finally in the Democrats, mostly in Sanders, but it is hopeful that these debates will drive voter turnout for the next election.
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