Sunday, September 16, 2012

The struggle and loneliness of a political moderate

These days, life can be lonely if a person is a political moderate. Many of us tend to be Independents who do not fit inside the tents of the Democratic and Republican parties.
This loneliness was especially acute during the last couple of weeks when both parties held their national conventions. I could not bring myself to watch much of either of them, but I tried.
Both conventions were basically useless when it came to finding substance. Gone are the days when these events produced genuine news, and they are now reduced to nothing but glorified pep rallies. They are infomercials in which people wearing fancy clothes try to convince us that our problems are not their fault.
It would be an overused cliché to state the two parties are like 10-year-olds on the playground pointing their fingers at the other refusing to take blame. Then again, cliches often earn that status because they speak the truth.
This loneliness is further intensified when Independents search the mainstream media looking for evenhanded and reliable political analysis. We live in an age where bias is not only tolerated but encouraged when it comes to presenting information.
This is especially true when getting information from the major television news networks, and many of them were in rare form during the conventions. It was predictable which network praised and criticized candidates.
Most of the primetime programming on these networks falls into the category of political analysis and commentary. Under these rules, it is acceptable to present opinion and be critical of specific candidates and policies.
However, when certain broadcasters repeatedly fall on one side of a party or candidate it becomes easy to identify their ideology and personal agenda. This is where it becomes dangerous for the average viewer because if they only watch a limited amount of programs, then they are exposed to information presented from one point of view.
During the conventions, some of these news outlets toted the predictable party lines. For example, MSNBC is indisputably in the back pocket of the Democrats and especially President Obama when it comes to its primetime programming.
Too often, broadcasters there rely on emotional techniques when discussing issues and sometimes inject race into debates. The most frequent users of this technique are Chris Matthews and Al Sharpton. When discussing opponents of the president, they inject racial bias as a factor much too much.
I understand that racism is a significant problem in our country, and I have no doubt that it is a factor when it comes to some opponents of the president. There can be no questioning that and for those who feel otherwise, I feel they are being naïve if they do not acknowledge our racial divide.
Still, the frequency in which Matthews and Sharpton use race makes it come across as a power play rather than being legitimately concerned about our nation’s racial climate. I believe the reason more white people do not discuss race is because of a fear of being branded racist if they make a misstatement. Therefore, it becomes easier to just avoid the topic. Because of this, Matthews and Sharpton really are not helping.
On the other side, FOX News has people such as Sean Hannity who has no inhibitions when it comes to throwing around terms like ‘liar’ when describing the president. Don’t get me wrong, it is perfectly acceptable to criticize policies or candidates. However, inflammatory name calling really does no good.
In addition to Hannity, there can be no questioning that FOX presents information from a perspective leaning to the right. Therefore, it is important to understand that when listening.
Accepting information can be tricky so choose wisely.

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