Wednesday, July 25, 2007

The Debate

What Americans Want -- A Response to the CNN/YouTube Candidate Q&A


First, kudos to CNN for its groundbreaking presentation of presidential candidates responding to citizens' questions. It was a breath of fresh air compared to most television treatment of politics.

Now, to the candidates ...

Most Americans have rejected the Bush/Cheney approach to leading our country. We are looking to the Democrats for a dramatic change, and change now, not just in 2008.

Real leadership from the Democratic presidential "hopefuls" requires a coalition and unity against the Bush administration -- real action -- whether it be to move forward on impeachment, or to stop war funding, or to find other ways to effectively block the Bush administration's efforts to extend and consolidate their grasp on power. But such positions must be taken in consultation and as a group. The Democrats must join together to choose a way forward, and not leave each other out to twist in the wind if the right-wing attacks start.

We need the top tier of Democratic leadership, in Congress and in the presidential primary race, to stop competing with each other and to effect change now. Taking action against Bush and Cheney can also include bipartisan action to preserve and reaffirm the American values that the Bush administration has trashed. Americans really do believe in due process and checks and balances. Republicans, too, understand that Bush and Cheney do not represent them.

The Democratic leadership must not be distracted by the primary season, because Bush and Cheney are not. The Executive Branch is out of control. As lame ducks, Bush and Cheney see themselves as beyond the reach of traditional checks and balances. Certainly they've shown contempt for ordinary citizens and for Congress and the Judiciary. Meanwhile, with them still in charge, America's Constitution and our international standing continue to deteriorate. Precious lives continue to be sacrificed for ill-defined reasons.

Those calling themselves Democrats must come together and show their ability to change America's course now. Our political leaders need to really hear, through YouTube and other interactions with grassroots America, that business as usual won't cut it. It simply plays into the hands of those currently in control. And if the Democratic leadership does its most important job now, the 2008 presidential election will reflect that.

Let's also hope that CNN and all the mass media corporations will come to recognize that controlled, scripted, sanitized interactions between the presidential candidates and the people they seek to represent are unacceptable.

A democracy is government by the people, is it not? The media's role is to enable the people to do a good job of governing. They can do that by digging up serious information and asking hard questions, and also by getting out of the way.

Don't give us more pundits. Don't give us critiques of dress and hairstyle. Give us investigative, probing journalism -- and continue to involve citizens, as you have done with this groundbreaking YouTube format. It's good democracy and good television.


YouTube: The Debates

CNN: Your voice to be heard in historic debates

Most Americans see President Bush as intransigent on Iraq and prefer that the Democratic-controlled Congress make decisions about a possible withdrawal of U.S. forces, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll.


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....And The Truth Shall Set Us Free

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