We're Not that Smart

Not many pundits seem to get it about the American Public.  They either suffer from supposing upon the american public opinions that they do not have, or they think the public has intelligence, which we do not possess.

For the first premise of pundits writing that we have opinions, which, in fact, we do not posses – please look no further than one of the many examples Glenn Greenwald cites about pundits.  No doubts, many pundits today will make claim about the American heartland, and real Americans, whoever they are, and what they think about last night's debate.

Instead of dealing with that though, I want to make sure I deal with the patronization that we receive from major media outlets and others.

A great example of this is from a post by Andrew Sullivan on last night's presidential debate.  This is what he says about the public in a few instances of watching the debate.
9.49 pm. Two flashes from McCain so far: "that one," referring to Obama, and citing Obama's "secret." Nasty, uncivil and not even effective.
I debated dozens of times at Oxford. All I can say is that, simply on terms of substance, clarity, empathy, style and authority, this has not just been an Obama victory. It has been a wipe-out.
Does anyone who reads this really think that the entire American public sees the intricacies that Andrew does?  I'm not saying Andrew is wrong.  I agree with him.  But Sullivan's being right or wrong is not the issue.  The point is that McCain's answers - all of them – are effective.  People who do not compromise the Republican base will still take McCain's demeanor and answers, and run with them.  Just as they believe what they read in chain emails.

One other part on how we are not that smart.  Tom Brokaw said in the debate last night, “One of you will be president.”  However prophetic and true that statement may be, it was one of the most insulting, ignorant, and irresponsible things to say.  Brokaw himself, someone that should and probably does know better, completely immerses himself in a two party system that exists only because our citizenry unknowingly wills it.

That is to say, even though he's right, Brokaw is right only in a cynical nature.  If we honestly demand true balance from our network news anchors, then they should not ignore the fact that other candidates and political parties exist in our world, and that we have the option of voting for them.  Who knows, maybe I should thank Tom Brokaw and our media establishment for narrowing my choice down to two already.  Who knew it would be so simple?

But this brings me to another pet peeve of mine.  Can anyone out there give me a response that does not involve the words “two party system” as to why someone should vote for one of these two candidates?  Remember, I use the phrase “should”, not “have to.”  I understand how the various commissions block some third party candidates from the ballots, and while that is a worthy discussion, my inquisition is more philosophical in the sense of getting at the heart of why Americans allow and/or believe in the “two party system.”

William, you want to take this one up for me?  You're usually good at proving me wrong with cynicism.


Collins said…
oops! please excuse.
Having never attended an Oxford debate I cannot attest to the accuracy of Mr. Sullivan's statement--the problem is--very few people have ever attended an Oxford debate. This debate was not being graded by academics, but (excuse my use of the phrase) by joe six-packs. Fortunately, McCain did not do anything that would really impact Obama's lead and growing popularity & like wise Obama did nothing to hurt himself. Pretty much a push on this debate--but as I commented to you (Mike) a push at this point is a victory for Obama.

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