Thursday, April 21, 2005

Adolescent Snobbery Just Ain’t Cool, in Fact It’s a Subversion of Democracy.

If you’ve been following the mayor’s race via TV and Newspapers, or attended the various debates, you may never have heard of Rhett Smith’s campaign. He and other less likely aspirants to office have been systematically excluded from the debates and their candidacies virtually ignored in the press, and he’s not happy about it..

According to Rhett:

"Our free and open democratic process in the city of San Antonio has been undermined in the upcoming May 7, 2005 elections for mayor. Officially filed candidates have been intentionally excluded from candidate events."

Now, ol’ Rhet has a point. When the Chambers of Commerce and the Humane Society sponsor and event it is not solely for the edification of the citizenry. Debate sponsoring organizations almost invariably have an agenda at City Hall. They know that it is highly likely that candidates with the largest war chests will be the most likely victors. Hence, it is in their interests to ingratiate themselves with the frontrunners.

Well-funded candidates believe that any attention given to the outsider candidates comes out of the elite's entitled slices of the face-time pie. The more candidates talking in a debate, the less face-time any one of them gets. Simply put, the moneyed candidates collude to keep the independents out of the dialog. Now I know all’s fare in love and war, but this isn’t very sporting. They have million dollar coffers with which to buy televised paid political advertisements and then they deny the only free airtime available to these dissenting voices.

The sponsoring organizations and the media claim that a format with too many candidates is somehow confusing or would constitute a cacophony. They wouldn’t have time for enough questions. The outsiders are losers and their candidacies are irrelevant. These people are unqualified, eccentrics or stupid. These arguments are at best self-serving and at worst slanders and pernicious distortions of the electoral process that have the effect of becoming self-fulfilling prophecies.

What is the optimal number of candidates for a debate? For a presidential election we were told it was two, and no more. But for a mayoral debate three is just right. Who are we kidding folks? The fix is in. I remeber the Democratic Primary debates and they were really interesting. They weren't boring or scripted and their spontaneity was refreshing. Who can forget Al Sharpton, that guy was a hoot. Carol Mosely Braun's presence made Al look positively moderate. Leiberman's dignity made the frontrunners look like the slick, overambitious, evasive charletains they actually were. What's a frontrunner anyway? Can you say Dick Gephardt? Besides, these debates alowed them to put their issues into the dialogue, so you see winning isn't everythin Newt.

OK some of these people are geeks, but where is it written you have to be cool to run for office? It is not their lack of funds or qualifications that ultimately handicaps these candidates’ chances for election. It is the cult of cool. If you were a social or a jock in high school, you will probably make an excellent fundraiser or television journalist. But if you were stuck in the library when the other kids were at pep rally, then you are to be politically disenfranchised for life. These people have committed the last unpardonable sin in America. The outsider candidates are uncool.

What the arbiters of upward social mobility need to realize is most people are uncool, that’s what makes the socials special. But elections aren’t about being special. They’re about what most people think. Newsflash…most people don’t think like the cool people, or believe what the cool people believe. Indeed they feel victimized by the coolocentric dominant culture and they're resentful. To you cool people out there, that's righteous indignation, not envy. That is why they don’t look like them or act like them. So why do the cool people get to decide who gets face time, whose voices are heard, who’s eccentric, whose priorities are the right ones for the rest of the uncool electorate? If you are cool and you want to run for office or become a TV anchor, that’s cool. Your candidate will raise tons off cash, buy tons of TV propaganda and probably win. But this ain’t high school, this is democracy so you don’t get to decide the destiny of the unwashed masses of the uncool any longer.


At 10:33 AM, Blogger R. Spacedark said...

Um, Barbara Boxer wasn't in any Democratic debate I watched. Woulda been kinda strange since she wasn't a candidate.


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