It was a long time coming, but I think I finally have come up with a way to counteract the national media’s love affair with the two-party system. Believe it or not, I got the idea from the National Rifle Association. When I read that this group was hoping to purchase a media outlet to avoid spending restrictions in the area of campaign financing, I immediately saw this as a way for independent voters to break the hold that the two parties have on national politics.
I believe this sector of the electorate, the independent voters, needs to buy its own media outlets — one each in the North, South, East, West and Central United States, and use these outlets to promote multi-party candidates. This would ensure that all candidates would get fair coverage and participate in national debates. The many advantages allowed to news organizations are amazing. They can present all kind of formats, interview candidates, air comedy monologues, broadcast editorials and feature talk shows without time constraints. Is it any wonder that beating the two-party candidates is just about equivalent to winning a state lottery? Getting a break on campaign financing is icing on the cake.
Let’s face it, corporate ownership of media outlets has not only changed the way news organizations operate, it has also changed the way some of us view the media. We no longer think of the national press as unbiased news sources. Most of us are sophisticated enough to look at who is putting up the dollars to finance the particular outlet and audit their performance through the lens from which side of the political spectrum the ownership represents. The time has passed when we all believed all of what we heard and saw on television. The trust newsmen like Walter Cronkite once earned has been severely damaged by newsreaders who have no qualms about shaping the news product to reflect their own or the ownership’s political bias.
The only way I can see to break down the barriers against multi-party elections is to challenge the way news is covered. For example, there’s a real need to separate news from entertainment. Media outlets need to have clearly defined standards when it comes to news presentation. Certainly, celebrity sex scandals should be reported in their own time slots, but it’s a matter of prioritizing what constitutes news. Just because the newsreaders enjoy the titillation of sex scandals does not mean that the millions of citizens dependent on prescription drugs find these scandals more appealing than they do plans to help them bear the cost of drug purchases. Combining mainstream news with tabloid journalism just doesn’t work for serious news viewers and listeners. Of course, the news outlets depend on the public finding it easier to stretch out on the couch and absorb whatever is on the screen than take the time to read both sides of the issues in the newspapers.
At this point in our political life, I see the opportunity to hear unbiased multiparty views as almost revolutionary. I’m so desperate I often resort to overseas news broadcasts just to get a different slant on events. Can you really and truly imagine what a 24-hour news broadcast that featured non-Republicans and non-Democrats analyzing the news would be like? Wouldn’t it be wonderful to listen to foreign-affairs specialists from various nonpartisan think-tanks (if there are any left) and college political science departments clarify news events without regard to political partisanship? Of course, once we get everyone to share the so-called American point of view, even overseas broadcasts will assume the same monotonous drone. A few decades ago, no one would have even found nonpartisan news analysis to be unusual.
Over the years, I’ve actually heard political partisans admit that, where their candidates were concerned, the fewer people that voted, the better their chances were. That may work for them, but in the long run, it doesn’t work for a democratic republic. This is basically where the two-party system has gone awry. Its members have become so focused on holding power that they have lost the vision that has resulted in keeping the country strong and free.
In spite of the goals of the National Rifle Association, I think for the purposes of independent voters, challenging the national media outlets is the best strategy I’ve heard for breaking up the two-party system. I think we should let the national media outlets go down with them. After all, they have chosen to ignore the public and have cast their lots with the two parties.
As we venture further into the new century, is it or is it not time for a change in direction? The welfare of future generations is at stake. You be the judge.
You can join the conversation with Rose M. Nolen
by calling at 882-5734 or e-mailing her