“Pettiness and Mud”

March 6, 2012

A few insights from Dr. Sowell before he urges politicians to abandon principles:

What could they possibly have been thinking about, in the first place, when they agreed to a format based on short sound bites for dealing with major complex issues, and with media journalists — 90 percent of them Democrats — picking the topics?

The conduct of the candidates made things worse. In a world with a record-breaking national debt and Iran moving toward creating nuclear weapons, they bickered over earmarks and condoms. I am against earmarks, but earmarks don’t rank among the first hundred most serious problems facing this country.

Issues we face today are often not so simple to be explained in 60 seconds, let have the solutions explained so quickly as well.  The world is usually more complex than we want it to be and less complex than “experts” wish it.  While the masses want quick, easy solutions that fit nicely into a soundbyte, which do injustice to the issue, and experts want drawn out responses to every issue presented, which is unsuitable on television these days, the happy medium in between fits nobody’s tastes.

The format of the “debates” staged the scene for veering away from weighty topics in favor of one-liners about less-important issues the country faces.  The fact that this format has occurred frequently throughout this election cycle is an indicator of a few things

Briefly, first, that party leaders are incompetent, indifferent, or cynical.  Second, that democracy cannot work (in its ideal form) in the age of television because petty issues are more entertaining than weighty issues and thus critical matters are ignored.  And third, that political candidates need not show their qualifications for the highest office in the land but rather their wit and rhetorical skills.

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