Chris Buck, Esq. - Let Our Government Leaders Debate

Let our government leaders debate

By Chris Buck, Esq.

NH Campaign Director

McCotter 2012

U.S. Representative Thad McCotter may be a name you don’t know very well, and part of the reason is because of the sort of media bias recently displayed by Fox News. A recent article on the economic crisis suggested that Wall Street credit rating agencies relish exercising their power to tinker with the U.S. economy, because of the influence it gives them over the political process. Think about it – the entire U.S. Congress, the President, every television station and newspaper have been unable to talk about anything other than the U.S. economy and the government’s response over the last two weeks. And the major issue has never been about default – we were never in any real danger of a bona fide default – it was about whether these Wall Street agencies have faith in the U.S. government. I’d say that’s exerting a fair amount of influence over the political process.

In much the same way, “big media,” as we might call it, has figured out that it can exert a significant amount of influence over the most significant political contest in our country, the race for the Presidency. This is not a new phenomenon. Ron Paul was excluded from a debate in his previous run for President, Gary Johnson was excluded from the last CNN debate in New Hampshire, and now U.S. Rep. Thad McCotter may be excluded from the Iowa GOP/Fox News debate, where he appears on the Ames Straw Poll ballot, and spent $18,000 for his inclusion in both the debate and straw poll.

These Presidential candidates don’t ever seem to get the benefit of common sense either. Ron Paul and Thad McCotter are both sitting United States Representatives. Gary Johnson is a former 2-term Governor of New Mexico, and was so prolific with vetoing legislation that he earned the nickname “Governor Veto.” The concept of “discretion” has been thrown out the window, and involvement in political debates is viewed less by the media as a public service to enlighten the voters about their choices than a mechanism to weed out candidates before they can gain momentum. The message seems to be, “let’s just get it over with already.” It should be no surprise that 2 or 3 candidates are better for TV and better for ratings than 8 or 9, because you can dedicate entire entourages of TV crews and reporters to a smaller group of candidates. In much the same way that holiday and back-to-school marketing seems to get earlier and earlier each year, the media wants to pick a winner and appoint them President as soon as possible.

As Republicans, as lovers of liberty and individual rights, of states’ rights and limited government, we generally abhor the concentration of political power in the hands of only a few people. So I ask the good people of Iowa and New Hampshire, and all the participants of the early primary contests, whether it is any better to have winners and losers determined by a government or by a few television executives in a board room.

Of course, big media will respond that we must have a mechanism to determine “legitimate” candidates from the “fringe.” It is a disingenuous argument, because big media stations really have no desire to perform a public service, they are predominantly looking out for their own business interests. And it’s a convenient method of hiding that fact from public scrutiny to call the decision a “policy,” when in reality the delineation between legitimate and fringe candidates is completely arbitrary. Should inclusion be determined by a 1% polling threshold among declared candidates? How about a 5% threshold, as long as they have $1 million dollars in the bank? Then we could have had this wrapped up by May.

Once you start going down that road of trying to decide not only who is popular now, but who is likely to be a “legitimate” candidate based on polling, you realize how much speculation and guesswork is involved, and how arbitrary and discriminatory the whole process is. If Americans care about the integrity of the political process, and want to continue to have a wealth of good candidates for President, they should protest the ridiculous policy of excluding active members of Congress and former Governors from participating in televised debates.