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Political Conventions

08/21/08 12:31PM By Frank Bryan
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I came of age politically in the 1950's watching the party conventions with my mother - especially the Democrat convention as she cheered on Adlai Stevenson. 

Little did I know at the time that I would spend my adult life studying and teaching others about national politics. Nor could I have imagined the dramatic changes in politics that have occurred in the half century plus since 1952.

Take the upcoming national conventions. 

Party conventions used to elect candidates to run for president.

Now they don't. They are coronations; coronations I will not be watching. 

For two reasons:

First, I am tied of the whole spectacle that has unfolded as the primary season dragged on and on. 

Enough already. 

Second, I won't be watching because I know the national, for profit media desperately wants me to. I refuse to be in any way complicit with the snake oil and hype into which televised politics in America has been led by mega-media capitalists. 

When I first began teaching political science at the college level no chapter on the media could be found in any of the text books on American Politics. Now every text has a media chapter that is as long (or longer) than the chapter on the presidency or the Congress. Yes, in the eyes of the profession which teaches college students about American politics, the media (correctly) is treated as a co-equal with the major institutions of government.

Here's the rub. We can't throw the rascals out.

But since the media is a capitalist enterprise, its customers (us) ought to be ever conscious of the famous dictum "let the buyer beware."

The product national televised political news is selling us is not enlightenment or even information. It is conflict. 

And if no conflict seems to exist, they will do their best to create some.

For instance with the issue of who the candidate will be already decided we currently are being fed a steam of "what ifs?" to stimulate interest in the first convention, the Democrat's. What will the unpledged delegates do? What is Hillary up to? Is she working behind the scenes to steal the convention from Obama? Will there be riots in the streets of Denver? After all. This is the 40th anniversary of CHICAGO where in 1968 leftist demonstrators provided the networks with so much juicy coverage. "Will it happen again?" One can almost hear the hope in their voices.

Beyond all this, I've had it with politicians whose fear of making a slip trumps their willingness to say something important. Mind you. The fear is justified. The media is laying in wait like wolves trailing a herd of caribou, their noses to the ground sniffing for any sign of blood.

Put simply an Adlai Stevenson would have been eaten alive by today's media dominated nominating process.

That is why I intend to vote early this year. 

With my clicker. 

Mother would understand.

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