This Sunday's YouthSpeaksOut! was hosted by Willits High School students. The topic was "The Political Climate Today." They were excellent, makes me hopeful for a future. You can stream or download it at our website- http://youthspeaksout.net/ or simply click on the links below.
¡FurthuR! Dan Roberts
YSO INTRO February 2012
Our topic today is “Today’s Political Climate”
All 3 of us will be old enough to vote in the this fall’s Presidential election. We are conscientious citizens and want to make informed decisions about who to vote for. While we will certainly be influenced by our parents and friends, our decisions will be based on information that we personally gather.
A large proportion of the American news coverage these days concerns the Republican Primary elections. The news is often referred to in terms used in sports and racing events. The excitement of the campaigns certainly increase the market share for the media. However actual information about the candidates character and beliefs is what is essential for the voters.
It is expected that between 6 and 7 billion dollars will be spent this year promoting candidates in federal and state elections. In January 2010, the Supreme Court's “Citizens United” ruling lifted restrictions on how much money corporations, unions and individuals could spend on political ads. But corporations and unions cannot give money directly to a presidential committee. Instead, they give money to a superPAC. They're Political Action Committees closely associated with particular candidates, and often run by friends and former staffers of the candidates they support. But unlike candidates' committees, whose contributions are limited by federal law, superPACs can take donations of any size. This is the first presidential election in which Super PACs have existed. The rise of the superPACs has completely reinvented the dynamics of negative campaigning, removing the consequences of factual inaccuracy by allowing the candidate a veneer of deniability.
In Europe there are carefully regulated limits on campaign financing, as well as limits to the length of the campaigns, and restrictions on advertising. For example, in France the limit that a Presidential candidate can spend on the campaign is $20 million euros. That is less than 3% of what will be spent on the campaign to re-elect President Obama. Also campaign advertising on French television is forbidden, but official time is given to the candidates on public TV. We will discuss these matters in more depth later.
As newcomers to the electoral process we have a fresh view of the world of politics. We know that most politicians are at least the age of our parents, and many are the age of our grandparents. The overwhelming majority are white males, though we have the first non-white President of the United States. In studying history we have learned that there have been great political leaders who have made our country a fairer, more democratic union. And we also learned about the corruption, greed, and inequality promoted by leaders who were the puppets of the elite, their industries, and corporations.
What we want to discuss today is how the political climate appears to us. We care about our country and its role in both local and worldly affairs. We care about authenticity in politics. We want leaders who will carefully consider decisions that will affect us today and in the future. And, given that we will outlive most of them, we want the future given thoughtful consideration.
We want to consider whether our electoral process is serving our political will in the best way it can. Are we being sold candidates by the same advertising companies that sell us fast food? Is accumulating the largest campaign financing the key to being elected? Are we voting for the best promotions or the best candidates?
We will discuss these topics for 30-40 minutes, then we will open the phone lines for your insights and questions. We are in the Willits studio and the phone number will be 707 456-9991. We will open those phones in about 20 to 30 minutes. Elwyn, how would you describe the political climate we are living in?
We’re going to open the phone lines now. The phone number is 707 456-9991. Everyone is welcome to call, and we’d especially like to encourage the youth in the listening audience. Please call in if you have questions or insights about the political climate today.
Do you think that our electoral process works well? Do you think that there is too much money influencing our political campaigns? How do you feel about the superPACS opening the door to unlimited funding of negative ads that candidates can deny responsibility for?
Do our political campaigns last too long? If you were going to change one thing about how we elect our leaders, what would it be? What do you think of the European models of campaign restrictions? How about the electoral Congress rather than the popular vote determining Presidential elections?
Have you ever voted for a third-party candidate? Did you think you were throwing your vote away? Have you ever been involved in a political campaign? What did you do and what did you learn from the experience?
What advice would you give to first-time voters?
The phone number is 707 456-9991. When you call, please be ready to turn down your radio or we’ll get a very confusing echo. The number is 456-9991. Please call and be a part of this discussion. We’d really like to hear from you.