Why can't we, and how could we, have more meaningful national elections?

I’m just watching Cspan2, and it features David Rieff, author, and Wesley Clark, former NATO Supreme Commander and Presidential candidate.

And I’m seeing a Wesley Clark that I’ve never seen before, a thoughtful, intelligent man. Of course, I knew he must be somewhat intelligent, but during the election we, me anyway, saw nothing of this side of him, or any other candidate, for that matter.

This transcends political “sides”; what can we do, if anything, to have elections that are not run like a campaign to sell the newest flavor of Coke?

Believe it or not, even us “right wing wackos” can change our minds, and we can think; we just need access to information, not propaganda.

One piece of that answer lies in what made you watch Cspan2.

G4 was in repeats?

I take your point, though.

Ban all private funding of political campaigns.

More palatable might be to force media outlets to carry saturation ads for everyone in the race, e.g. one 30 minute ad an hour per party and one 15 minute ad every 30 minutes. I dimly recall this being the way it’s done in Britain (“You’ve just been watching a party political broadcast for the lolwtf party”), and I think Britain still has sub-$10 million political campaigns as a result.

Absolutely, it’s all about how money and influence peddaling dominate politics. My (unfounded) gut feeling is that if we could clean that up and people had more faith in politicians and the government they’d pay more attention, rather than just assume it didn’t make much difference – especially if we could make more than just two (quite similar) parties viable. I too like giving all candidates air time, free as part of the networks’ broadcast license.

On the other hand, if you’re interested such information is already available. I watched the democratic presidential candidates debate before the primary on C-SPAN, which I found much more informative than any of the lame ass paid advertising.

In Denmark political advertising in TV and radio is banned. We have strong public service media. On the main public service TV station all parties will get allotted a slot for a campaign movie informing about their politics, followed by an interview with the chosen spokesmen of the party. Besides from this there are of course tons of debate programs, interviews and the like.

The main TV stations are funded wholly or partly by license fees from owners of televisions, and they are bound by public service contracts. This means that they can be held accountable, to some degree, for their political coverage: they have obligations to be fair and neutral and to provide equal possibilities for the registered parties to get their message out.

Of course this do not make for perfect political coverage, and there is a clear tendency to give way more speaking time to the leaders of the two largest parties in spite of the obligations towards all registered parties. But all else being equal it makes for a far more sober political debate than what is going on in USA around elections.

As long as ads are such an important way of reaching voters and as lung as the tv and radio stations that actually reach people have no other obligations than moneymaking, politics and politicians will be marketed and sold much in the same way as washing powder and junk food.

I dimly recall this being the way it’s done in Britain (“You’ve just been watching a party political broadcast for the lolwtf party”), and I think Britain still has sub-$10 million political campaigns as a result.

I’d be amazed if they were still spending that little on getting elected, especially that last two elections, but whatever the cost, it isn’t getting spent on TV ads.

I’m sure there were more of them when I was a kid, but the Part[l]y Political Broadcast stuff does still go on. The up (and down I guess depending on how you look at it) is every UK TV station has an obligation to unbiased political coverage. While that goes some way to stopping Sky turning into a UK version of Fox News, it does also lead to silly things like a lot of George Galloway being snipped from Big Brother because there is no-one else on the show interested enough in politics to provide an opposing viewpoint hence it’s biased and can’t be broadcast.

I’m willing to give up a smidgen of ground on the Free Speech Amendment (e.g. I’m not sure money == speech), but wholesale banning of speech? I don’t like how American politics is playing out, but abandoning the Constitution seems overboard. I can see all sorts of pitfalls with banning TV/Radio politics, even though the draw of forcing the political spectrum into the more contemplative and incisive world of print is tempting. The obvious problem is that those in charge define what is “political” and could make limited use of the more powerfull TV/radio vector while their opponents are relegated to print. Maybe this doesn’t (yet) happen in Denmark, but IMHO it would quickly happen in America.

I wish:
Each candidate writes a one page letter, photocopies it and mails it to every address in the US. Post offices post them all on the walls for people w/o addresses to see. Then everyone shuts the fuck up except for debates.

Excellent thread starter, CindySue.

There’s no banning of speech going on, and there’s no ban on politics in radio or TV. The only thing that is banned is paid speech. Here’s the relevant bit of Danish law:

Lov om radio- og fjernsynsvirksomhed § 76:
Stk. 3: “I fjernsyn må der ikke udsendes reklamer for arbejdsgiverorganisationer, fagforeninger, religiøse bevægelser, politiske partier, politiske bevægelser samt valgte medlemmer eller opstillede kandidater til politiske forsamlinger.”

Stk. 4: “I fjernsyn må der ikke udsendes reklamer for politiske budskaber i perioden fra tidspunktet for udskrivelse af valg til politiske forsamlinger eller folkeafstemninger og indtil afholdelsen af valget eller afstemningen. Er dato for valget eller afstemningen bekendtgjort tidligere end 3 måneder før afholdelsen, indtræder den reklamefri periode først 3 måneder før afholdelsen af valget eller afstemningen.”

And for those whose Danish might be slightly rusty, here we go in English (quick and dirty translation which no doubt misses all the finer legal points!):

Law about radio and television business. § 76:
Subsection 3: “No commercials can be broadcasted on TV, advertising employer-organizations, unions, religious movements, political parties, political movements and elected members or running candidates for political chambers.”

Subsection 4: “No commercials advertising political messages can be broadcasted on TV in the period from the time of the call for election for political chambers or for a general vote, and until the holding of the election or vote. If the election or vote is announced earlier than 3 months prior to the holding, the commercial-free period will only start 3 months before the election or vote.”

Ultimately it is of course up to the courts to determine what political advertising is, but this has nothing to do with banning politics from Radio or TV. It is strictly a ban on paying for getting your policy on Radio or TV, and it is coupled with the public service contracts I mentioned in my previous post, that binds the broadcasters to be fair in the amount of coverage added to the parties. The only parties that gets shut out to some extent, are those that can’t manage to gather enough signatures to run for parliament prior to the election.

The people Wesley Clark hired to handle fund-raising and marketing failed him.

He was looking decent as the candidates started to line up, but once the race began he was quickly marginalized and was forced to rely on shock tactics to create buzz. That tactic failed and made him look even worse, even more remote from the party.

What failed Wes Clark was that he was the Mad Bomber of Belgrade, and laughably portrayed himself as “the peace candidate”.

BobFunk, subsection 3 of what you posted looks exactly like banning speech to me, and would be strictly against the US constitution.

Both parties are run and controlled by very powerful machines that do an effective job of deciding who they want and don’t want and making it easy for their person and very hard for the people they don’t want to see get the nomination. The primaries are pretty much set up to their bidding. Don’t know how you overcome that.

I don’t think his military background did anything but benefit his credibility with Iraq…your opinions of his conduct are hardly mainstream. His number one failure was not seizing the day and becoming the clearly stated plan guy, which would have put him miles ahead of his rivals.

It’s not a question of banning speech, it’s a question of making buying and selling something illegal. No political subjects are banned on Danish TV, but it is illegal for an autorized broadcaster to sell of their broadcasting time to someone who wants to try and influence the people politically.

It is solely a question of making it illegal for TV stations to sell out to political or religious interests, not a question of disallowing any form of religious or political viewpoint in TV.

Gah! When would we be able to actually see the shows then?

I see your “Gah!” and raise you a “NOOOOOOOOOO!!!” I see my error. Substitute “Seconds” for “minutes”