The Hillsblog

Jul 18

The Media and Voter Apathy

Hello, fellow bloggers. I know it’s been a while since I’ve written a new post. Lately I’ve gotten into a new show called “The Newsroom” made by Aaron Sorkin. I sincerely hope you all have seen at least the first episode on youtube.com which can be streamed here. It’s a fantastic show that highlights the medias role in American democracy, particularly on how its failed us for the last few decades.

The last few decades of media coverage has been far from informative for American people. The news media has been too obsessed with providing balance and ratings in their reporting that they have lost sight of what they should be giving to the American people, facts and truth. In their quest for balance, the media has lost the ability that has protected the U.S. middle and lower classes from the tyranny of the upper class. To be frank, because I cannot think of another phrase at the moment that would portray the same message; the media has lost its ability to “call bullshit” on a political side. Just because a party claims a reason for a political stance, the media will report it in the name of balance, true or not. In the 1960’s and the 1970’s, reporters would vigorously ask politicians questions on their stances to know where their true interests lie, with the people or with corporations that donate to their campaigns for office. Take for instance, tax policy: Mitt Romney and the republican party will argue that taxes are already too high for the highest income earners and they should not be raised because it would endanger job creation. Since President Obama took office in 2009, the republican party has used the rising deficit as a go-to attack on the President’s plan for economic recovery and virtually anything else on his agenda that would relate to any government allocation of money. However, the republican party does not mention that taxes on the highest income earners have now been some of the lowest in recent history, and unfortunately the media does not use it as a rebuttal during interviews with any republicans. “Job creators” have been running amok in corporate profits and have had plenty of opportunities to create new jobs, but as you see in this graph, corporate investment levels for human and mechanical resources are drastically lower then their profits. My question is: why would we let corporate CEO’s run home with huge bonuses for themselves (that they obviously are not using to further job creation) when the United States is facing a looming debt crisis that the republican party uses as a selling point for their candidates? Because they are the party of the rich, that’s why. Why is the media not calling them out on this? Most of the current debt was accumulated under a republican president, where most members of the republican party in Congress did not worry about the debt for a second during those years. Why are anchors not hitting the republican party on their hypocrisy?

Like I said before, the media has sacrificed truth for ratings. People in general like to hear that what they think is right, and that is why people will watch the programs that give them the information that is exactly that they want to hear. I believe that some things are just indefensible. For instance, republicans use the deficit in their arguments of why the country cannot afford the President’s agenda to reform medicare and social security, but they refuse to raise taxes on the wealthiest people in the country (some of them like to call themselves patriots, but patriotism apparently does not mean helping your country when it needs some of your ridiculous sums of money to support 99% of its population), and republicans refuse to cut military spending. The military is the third biggest expenditure in the U.S. budget, and we exceed the entire continent of Europe’s spending by nearly 250% and exceed China’s military spending (the closest non-ally competitor) by 600%! While there is no reason to spend this amount of money on the military while we are in a recession, republicans refuse to cut the budget at all to lower the deficit they scream about every day in Congress. Back to the media, while this is mentioned, anchors and reporters do not hammer the republican party with the hypocrisies and falsehoods that they spread every day, and I wish that there was a man as brave as Will McAvory in real life (the anchor in “The Newsroom”).

Now, to connect all of this to voter apathy, something that has only been mentioned once in the title. The U.S. has an enormousness voter apathy problem, something that I would like to study in close detail. In voter participation rate statistics compared to every country in the world, the United States ranks at number 120. I believe that voter apathy is the result of many factors, but the media is by far the largest. It is my opinion that the media has distorted the news in such a way, that many Americans feel as if the system will never change and their vote is powerless. Therefore, they either do not participate in the system as a form of protest or they do not bother to become informed at all. I think that a proactive media that is willing to do their best to inform the American electorate instead of competing for ratings would drastically change the opinions of Americans who cannot tell the difference between the two main political parties. Because the media will be reporting aggressively on candidates, both parties will have to refrain from nominating extremists such as Tea Party candidates, who would never survive a vote from an educated electorate. With an informed electorate, voters would eventually stop picking the candidate who is “the lesser of two evils” and start picking the candidate who they generally agree with. A concession in my argument is that the voter turnout rate has generally not been very high in recent years in the United States. To that, I would explain that the internet has given access to more voters then ever before in history. At the click of a mouse can a voter find an interview, general headlines, controversies, and candidate’s records to become acquainted with politics. If voters had more faith in the U.S. political system, they can connect with any candidate instantly to see who they want to support with barely trying. 40 years ago, voters only had television and newspapers as sources (not that every source on the internet is credible) that would report what they wanted the electorate to hear. On the internet, possibilities are limitless. Records and stances on issues are everywhere and available all the time, unlike daily newspapers and television news sources that would only report on issues that they felt were relevant. With e-mail and other innovative ways to in touch with candidates via questions sent to reporters directly from the electorate, voters every way in the world to get the information they would want out of their perspective candidates. Unfortunately, this does not exist, and media is still a business competing with each other for higher ratings. Imagine if the electorate stood up and said to the media “we want a tough questioner” they might actually put one on the air for a test run. I feel as though the conservative base would not want to hear that most of their stances are either outdated, against their interests, hypocritical, unrealistic, or wrong, but its a bad tasting medicine that voters need to wake up.

Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoyed, feel free to comment or question,

-BH

Jun 19

Patriotism

Lately I’ve been hearing a lot of “patriotism” arguments coming out of conservatives and its been really getting on my nerves. Are liberals not patriotic? I think we very much are, and more than conservatives. In fascist nations, patriotism is usually the excuse leaders give the people to get away with wildly stupid ideas, such as Adolf Hitler’s Germany taking on all of Europe, the U.S. and the Soviet Union (I am not comparing Hitler to conservatives). I think a true patriot would want everyone to contribute to their country, they would want their country to have the best schools, they would want their country to have the cleanest environment, they would want everyone to be healthy, and most of all they would want every single one of their countrymen to vote and participate in their politics. I would say I am a patriot.  

Apr 16

There is something horrifically wrong with this.

There is something horrifically wrong with this.

(Source: jeffmiller, via ilyagerner)

Feb 09

The Republican Party and Why Their Gun is Facing the Wrong Direction

So this is a long story. It starts before even 2011 and the beginning of the numerous Republican Presidential debates for the nomination. This story starts in 2009, when angry populists starting mailing tea bags to members of Congress to try and re-enact a poor version of the Boston Tea Party. Using the same degree of unoriginality to classify themselves, they called themselves the Tea Party. From then until this very day, they act as a small (yet very influential) sect of the Republican Party. To their credit, their movement did spur enough pointless anger in the American populous to help the Republicans reclaim a majority in the House after four years and greatly reduce the Democratic majority in the Senate. While the Republican Party did greatly benefit from their lunacy in the 2010 midterm, the Republicans will suffer in 2012 if the Tea Party retains its enormous influence (which they will). After President Obama’s grassroots movement in 2008 proved to be so successful, the Republicans decided to use the Tea Party to their advantage in 2010 to have their own grassroots movement serve their cause. This is sound logic, except for one mistake; the President’s grassroots movement was centered around a certain candidate, him, and not an extremist ideology like the Tea Party’s.  

So the story goes on that the Republicans succumbed to the Tea Party’s radical agenda of attempting to balance the budget (of course by trying to cut the lower and middle class’s safety nets), repeal the health care bill that now insures thousands who would be helpless in the face of illness, and securing the rich’s tax cuts (although it would have greatly forwarded their goal of bringing down the national debt if they had taken those cuts away). Through these ventures, the Tea Party’s popularity among the American people has decreased significantly. The current situation is that while the American people are not very fond of the far right any longer, they are still the Republican base. Of course since the Republican base decides who gets the nomination to take on Barack Obama, they want to choose someone who represents them, a candidate of the far right. I’m fairly sure the Republican National Committee knew of this, and they also know that candidates further from the center are less electable by the majority of the American people because most sway-able and undecided voters are moderates. 

I think that in order to combat the inevitable unelectibility of their nominee, they decided to give their candidates more exposure time in order to desensitize the public to their rightist message. This prolonged exposure technique is known to us as the endless amount of debates the Republican Presidential hopefuls have had so far. As a bonus to the desensitization of their message, the RNC hoped to make their candidates look more open so they can relate to the public and look involved to try and solve their problems. Personally I do not know any other reason why they would have had such a multitude of debates, although I am always open to other opinions as always. However, this tactic backfired. The debates exposed the influence of the (now unpopular) Tea Party in Republican politics, and quite frankly the Republican base themselves do not know who can both live up to their values and win the election in November. Romney, the most electable candidate in my opinion and seems to attract moderates, but cannot bring the base together behind him because of his flip-flopping habit. Rick Santorum has just walked away with three more states recently, extending this already prolonged battle of Tea Party vs. moderates in the Republican party. 

I think this battle will eventually tear the party apart. No matter who wins, Romney, Santorum, or Gingrich (I do not think Paul has a shot), either the base or the moderate wing of the party will be unsatisfied and may not support the nominee. This would lead to large numbers of voters staying home or even supporting President Obama in November. Every day the primary process continues, the President seems saner. Though the public was generally not satisfied with President Obama’s first term in comparison with the expectations many American’s had for him, but in comparison to the Republican party’s far right candidates and their agenda to change the country’s social and fiscal foundations, the President looks like a frustrated babysitter watching children bicker and wreck the house. 

Nov 24

tumblrbot said: WHERE WOULD YOU MOST LIKE TO VISIT ON YOUR PLANET?

going to Morocco tomorrow!

Nov 23

Why the “Super Committee” was doomed from the start.

As we all know the “super committee” has failed to find a plausible solution that satisfies both parties to reduce the United States’ spending over the next decade. To be honest, I never thought the super committee would be able to find such a solution. The super committee was made up of 12 members: 3 house dems, 3 senate dems, 3 house GOP’s, and 3 senate GOP’s. If you take a closer look at two of the most important GOP members, you will easily be able to see how success was a near impossible feat.

I am not familiar with all of the members of the super committee, but one that I am very familiar with is Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA). I worked as a campaign intern for his rival in the 2010 Pennsylvania senate race, former Congressman and Admiral Joe Sestak, so it was part of my job know all the talking points. Toomey is a Tea Party senator, a staunch conservative. In his previous seat in the House of Representatives, he sided with the far right on every issue. Because of this, Toomey has no interest in compromising with democrats and will only push Tea Party goals forward, such as lowering taxes for the wealthy and cutting back on social services such as medicare and social security. Absolute failure will come before any sort of compromise to increase taxes on those who can afford to pay more while cutting back on lifeline services to those who are not nearly as fortunate. Since Toomey was only elected last year, the GOP played a smart move by assigning him to this committee. A failure of this committee would lead to an outrage among constituents. By using Toomey, this factor is nullified since his term does not expire until 2016, much too long for a normal constituency to hold outrage against their senator for a single issue. Therefore, Toomey can forward Tea Party ideals without any fear of failure or a sense of necessity to give in to compromise.

Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas), co-chair of the committee is another example of why the GOP did not intend to compromise. Rep. Hensarling is another stanch conservative, although he did not emerge from the Tea Party, Hensarling has played to the far right. He has a history of supporting the right on social issues such as hate crimes and same-sex marriage. Hensarling even supported the Tea Party’s balanced budget amendment in the federal budget. He claimed that “he could find trillions of savings in his sleep, but the problem is getting the democrats to agree to it.” By that I have to assume he meant raising taxes on the middle class, eliminating most of medicare and social security, and cutting funding to education since he also opposed any tax increases for the wealthy, cuts to the military (the third highest dollar drowner in the U.S. budget, after social security and medicare respectfully). As a republican from Texas who has held possession of his seat since 2003 has a very low chance of losing his seat during his next re-election bid in 2013, it was a no-brainer choice to appoint him as the co-chair of a possibly failed committee since he will face no political repercussion for his willingness to throw the American people under the bus so the far right of the republican party see its desires weakened social services realized. 

Fortunately, President Obama has turned the hostage situation around on the republican party. Unless a solution is found by all of Congress, he will not allow republicans to change the automatic reductions that are set to take place in 2013, which would include cuts in both social services and defense. While it is saddening that U.S. elected officials could not find any viable solution to the debt problem, I feel that it is a better situation now that republicans face heavy cuts to the Pentagon while there will be a significant amount of social services cuts instead of social services taking the entire force of the blow.

Oct 23

I’ve had enough of the “both parties suck” mentality.

Alright. I’ve read one too many articles where comments are aimed at both parties such as “both parties can’t work together. I can’t vote for anyone next November since nothing will get done anyway.” or the classic “both political parties in the United States are unaware of the American peoples’ needs.” This is what I have to say about the matter:

Every American citizen has the right to vote in every election for which candidates and parties they agree with most. And unfortunately the party most Americans agree with most changes every 2-4 years, disallowing any real progress to be made on the any agenda, democratic or republican. To all Americans: if you vote for either party, odds are that they are trying to do their best to help you because if they don’t, they may lose their job. There are two main parties in the American political system, the republicans and democrats. They have two completely different ideologies, and naturally, they don’t believe that each other’s ideology would work and create the country they wish to see. If both parties were in agreement, then the United States would have no problem passing legislation. Every politician enters the Capitol every morning to set out to do the job you gave them. Now here’s whats tricky: the founding fathers purposely created this system to implement change slowly (for example: you need a 60 senator coalition to have a filibuster-proof majority in the senate or else the legislation can be easily filibustered with no end in sight). Each senator or representative will do their best to make sure you are not harmed by legislation they see as dangerous for the American people, even if it means to use the frustrating filibuster to their advantage.

Now back to the American people, if Americans see that one party isn’t doing enough for them, they will go ahead and elect the other party. This is one of the greatest paradox’s in the American political system. When Americans are frustrated and elect the other party, the first party has no more chance of accomplishing their agenda and therefore making the country the way they think it would work best. Now how do the American people not realize this? The rules of the political game are hard enough to play with a clear majority such as the one that President Obama had during the first two years of his term. Unfortunately, it is because people (not just Americans) are impatient and tend to look at the big picture rather than the tiny details. Before the mid-term elections, President Obama did not have a filibuster-proof majority in the senate, and with the help of some blue dogs the republicans were able to hold their ground and filibuster Obama out of a lot of his campaign promises. Of the healthcare legislation that the President was barely able to pass, the public option was removed from the bill (a crucial part of the legislation) and it is still being picked away piece by piece by republican federal judges. Because Obama was not able to do what he promised that he would do while in office, the American people contradicted their interests in 2008 and made it more difficult by reducing the democratic majority in the Senate while making the democrats the minority in the House. Now from January 2011 onward, the President’s agenda is futile because it most likely cannot get passed in the House while the Senate would need seven senators to defect from the republican camp (if all democrats were even to approve of a given bill), a very difficult situation for the president. 

By electing a split government, the American people have been the cause of their own outcry about how both parties cannot work together. The American people have elected politicians as their representatives, and if the president cannot work his agenda through congress, it is because he needs a bigger majority. Reducing the majority only made the president’s (and the American peoples’) problems worse. So next time, look at who holds power both in congress and in the White House before you declare that both parties are ineffective, because in the end it is you and every other American who made them ineffective and incapable of helping the country. 

Sep 20

My response to GOP claiming Obama wants to initiate "Class Warfare"

my short response to Ron Paul & GOP view on choice to enroll in health insurance is "freedom"