Exegisis of political process

This was written and put on the DFA listserve in the waning days of the campaign in February. The guy who wrote it, Joe Costello, was one of those brought on board by Trippi late in the fall of 2003, to try and 'frame' Howard for his upcoming frontrunner experience, but no matter, Howard was Howard. Joe was replying to Jim Moore's writing, Should political libel and fraud be crimes? Jim was coming into this political experience for the first time; Joe had seen it with Jerry Brown firsthand, 12 years earlier, and offered this as we reached the end of the campaign:

The question of political libel is extremely problematic. Simply, one cannot have the government be the judge of political speech.

The biggest reason negative campaigning and innuendo works so well in this age is the complete decimation of old political structures or associations. Modern politics has become a despicable alliance of big money, powerful corporate media, and a mercenary professional political caste.

There are no longer party organizations or any political associations that vet candidates and create strong allegiances that would hold up to negative attacks.

In the old days, candidates at local and state levels were promoted through party and other political structures. They were given endorsements by these organizations and thus gained legitimacy. In most cases, the organizations had more legitimacy than any specific candidate. When attacks came, the organizations could vouch for the candidate and they could better withstand the blows.

Also, when there were actual party organizations, which stood for something, once you had the party's backing, people could better look past the human foibles because they believed the candidate stood for a larger political agenda. For example, the political association created by the Dean campaign held up against the onslaught and amazingly collected another 9 million dollars at the height of the attacks.

Today, the only initial vetting process to running for office is whether the candidate can fund their campaign. In modern campaigns, if the money can be had, a candidate can rise from relative obscurity and gain recognition. However, this recognition can be relatively thin and thus when attacked and muddied, a new candidate can quickly fall, because there is no underlying political associations to defend them or provide greater legitimacy.

Understand that John Kerry faces the same problem right now and will be open to a tremendous onslaught by Bush. This will be from both sides one of the dirtiest and foulest campaigns in American history.

Having been through the Dean campaign, everyone has also witnessed the abysmal role of the national corporate media. They believe it is their role to pick a candidate. They focus on process and scandal but not on issues. They're own vested power interests go unchecked and unbalanced.

The rotted and corrupt political process we now have has evolved over the last forty years. Its technological foundation is broadcast television. The net and other technologies allow us the opportunity to restore a healthy politics not through libel laws, but by building new information channels and creating new vibrant political associations - that's the hope, that's the challenge.
-Joe Costello

Tags: Media (all tags)


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