Saturday, September 13, 2008

Will Americans believe anything that scares them?

Not much is said about this. But if the US electorate proves it can be manipulated -- even after eight years of Bush -- into buying more of the same, then the American system will appear even more broken to onlookers than it did in 2004. A McCain-Palin victory would likely have negative repercussions for those fighting for democracy in countries around the world.

Because people seeking democracy abroad have long sought to emulate the US, and if the former exemplar proves itself to be easily manipulated by special interests, then the opponents of democracy will point to this as evidence that democracy is a poor system of government. As I write this I am not just thinking about Beijing and Moscow. I'm thinking about Southeast Asia: the undemocratic exemplar that is Singapore, the mobs on the streets of Bangkok, and long suffering supporters of Aung San Suu Kyi -- both inside Burma and in exile. Moreover, tactics proven effective in this US election will likely be exported abroad, corrupting democratic systems elsewhere. Particularly vulnerable in this respect will be Australia, Canada, and the UK.

Of course, many people will argue this has already happened, and so not much is likely to change. But this time we are witness to an actual campaign that is openly corrosive of democratic values.

Essentially, the campaign of John McCain has degenerated into an effort to use lies, distortions and innuendo to paint his adversary in the worst colors. One recent ad tries to make Obama look like a pervert; another claims Obama called Palin a pig; others contain bold lies such as the fact Palin did not say "thanks, but no thanks" but had strongly supported Alaska's "bridge to nowhere," and that she opposes "earmarks" -- whereas she is most accomplished at getting them. The McCain campaign counts on the media to repeat its campaign propaganda without challenging it. In the end, the smears stick.

I suppose what remains of actual journalists within the ranks of the US news media might decide to rebel and do their jobs. But more and more of US television news is not populated by reporters, but models or professional actors. Many of this relatively new breed don't know what real journalism is. Few seem to care.

This video illustrates the unbelievable depravity of the McCain campaign, and highlights the efforts of a few real journalists to hold McCain accountable to the facts:

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