David Winston wrote in the February 6th Roll Call about the debate later this month between two people who are not running for President of the United States – former Speaker Newt Gingrich (a Republican) and former New York Gov. Mario Cuomo (a Democrat). The point of the debate, as Gingrich said, is “not to propel either of us to the presidency, but to propel our political system toward a genuinely productive search for the solutions to the challenges that face us.”
In the article, “Ideas: Campaigns and the Media Just Aren’t That Into Them,” Winston writes,
“What the American people likely will see is a rapid-fire exhibition of what great intellect and political courage can produce – inventive, even revolutionary, ideas that can address their problems. They will see a meaningful and thoughtful discussion between two of the country’s most innovative and passionate politicians, proving a civil debate between the parties is possible. Exactly what our presidential election campaigns should be and aren’t.The oddity of our current political system is this: As Americans clamor for serious dialogue on issues from national security to health care, presidential campaigns have become increasingly vacuous. The past 20 years have seen the dumbing down of American politics, and candidates, campaigns and the media all must share the blame.Fearing controversy or a campaign gaffe, candidates today strive mightily to avoid specifics on issues, giving voters lofty platitudes and feel-good promises rather than real policy.”
Instead, the media reports horse race and war chest and personality stories about the candidates. We learn more about Barack Obama’s parents than we do about how he intends to inspire Iran to stop sending weapons to our enemies in Iraq.
Winston doesn’t just blame the media, as he hits the political consulting class who “rely on a scorched-earth strategy for election success…”
In speaking with Fox News Channel’s Greta Van Susteren on January 17th Gingrich referred to the “sickness” and “pathologies” that exist in the modern American public square:
“I think we have a consultant class that’s just sick in both parties. These guys make tons of money and figure out mean nasty and ugly things to do to their opponents and there is no sense of civic spirit. There is a sense that this is some boloney game played by seventh graders for the shallowest of reasons.”
Van Susteren compared the typical political debate to the recent Rosie O’Donnell/Donald Trump spat and Gingrich agreed.
This, of course, applies not only to the national arena but here in Illinois as well. One of the reasons we never see a real Republican agenda advanced here is that our elected Republicans either forgot how, never knew, or don’t want to do it. They listen to the wrong people to learn more about what’s possible – and then do nothing constructive.
As Winston wrote:
“America can no longer afford the continual dumbing down of the political process. People want answers, and for good reason.This country never has faced the kind of challenges it does today – the threat of radical Islam, global economic competition, increasingly contentious domestic social demands, environmental pressures. In choosing the next president and Congress, the American people deserve more than they have been getting from candidates, campaigns and the media.”
Illinoisans deserve the same when it comes to state-level issues. On this website we’ve outlined some of the what’s-needed/how-to basics.