I don’t know about you, but I gotta say: Yesterday’s MacWorld Keynote was a big bag of meh. Granted, I’m fairly ambivalent about Apple anyway, but already some of the more overly-excitable gadget heads in my sphere have some weird delusion that the Apple TV set-top is going to be a Netflix killer. In your dreams.
Anyway, let’s take a look at the things that have been taking up too much of my brainspace:
Dennis Kucinich takes the judiciary route to be included in yesterdays’ Democratic Presidential debate, only to be barred via appeal by the Nevada Supreme Court. Personally I find it ridiculous that any candidate still in the running could be barred from participating, as that’s what an election season is supposed to be about: providing voters the opportunity to decide for themselves. Does Kucinich have a chance in hell of snagging the nomination? Of course not, but it’s beneficial to have voices from outside the established mainstream pushing candidates to better define and explain their own positions.
This (along with Ron Paul’s* exclusion from the Fox News debates) is yet another stinging reminder of how much we (being the populace) lost when the League of Women voters divested themselves of their control of the presidential debate system in 1988. It’s a little scary how stunningly accurate their press release regarding the matter remains:
The League of Women Voters is withdrawing sponsorship of the presidential debates … because the demands of the two campaign organizations would perpetrate a fraud on the American voter. It has become clear to us that the candidates’ organizations aim to add debates to their list of campaign-trail charades devoid of substance, spontaneity and answers to tough questions. The League has no intention of becoming an accessory to the hoodwinking of the American public.
Currently the debates are overseen by the Commission on Presidential Debates (which was founded in 1987 by joint effort from the Democratic and Republican party), an entity that acts far more like a publicist for the parties than an independent agency with any kind of transparency. Indeed, during the 2000 election season a rule was put down stating that a candidate was only eligible for inclusion if they had a minimum of 15% support level across five national polls, which effectively destroys any opportunity for 3rd or independent party candidates to share a platform with the two party front-runners.
That, my friends, is why we’re left with presidential debates of the caliber that could be outshone by any high school debate team. Rather than honest debate (backed and furthered by difficult and specific lines of questioning from an independent moderator), we’re left with a group press conference that’s less informative than even the most softball post-game locker room session. We’ve wasted away any opportunity we might have had to benefit from an open and spirited exchange of ideas and policies for what amounts to nothing more than a talking-points echo chamber, and that makes me very sad.