WARNING: There is a dangerous epidemic spreading across America. Binary Choice Syndrome (BCS) is a condition where voters believe they only have 2 choices for President. If they don’t vote for one, then they are actually voting for the other. The condition, prevalent on both the right and the left, has caused feelings of alienation and frustration. In more acute cases, the people afflicted with BCS have shown symptoms of rabid, illogical support for one candidate over the other. It is in this state that they are actively spreading the syndrome. Be very cautious when dealing with anyone who says the presidential election is a binary choice.
Binary Choice Syndrome plays on your fears about the two major party candidates. If you find yourself in the position where you don’t want to vote for either politician, those with BCS try to scare you into reluctant support of their candidate. They hope you will hold your nose and vote against the horrible politician by voting for the less horrible one. Should you think about not doing that, they trot out the binary choice. It’s your duty to vote for the less bad candidate, or you are helping the worse candidate get into office.
The premise of BCS is this: If you don’t vote for candidate x, then you are voting for candidate y.
3 reasons why Binary Choice Syndrome should be destroyed.
- It’s illogical. Obviously, if you don’t vote for X then X get’s one less vote. But does that mean Y get’s an extra vote? Of course not. Just just means X doesn’t get a vote. You might chose to vote for Z or even not to vote at all. (I encourage everyone to vote their conscience, but that’s your choice.) Voting for Z does not add votes to the tally for Y or X. It just adds votes for Z. In a 2 party system it may feel like you are throwing away your vote but you are definitely not adding to the tally of another candidate.
- It cheapens your vote. Binary Choices limit your options. Who are they to say you must choose between one or the other? Who are they to say that a vote for a candidate you support, no matter how unlikely to carry the day, is actually a vote for someone else? It is your right as a citizen to participate in the election process in the way you feel is required by your conscience. If that means voting for someone not represented by the two major parties, then that is your right. BCS is often spread by those in leadership of one of the two major parties because BCS keeps them in power.
- It is only valid if voters allow it to be valid. The ultimate cure for Binary Choice Syndrome is to realize that as long as we vote for the lesser of two evils we will get one of the evils. Every voter has the power to break free of the binary choice and vote for someone they actually support. If enough voters did this, the 2 party system would fall. We are not required to vote Republican or Democrat, just as people in elections of the past were not required to vote Whig or Democrat. Parties can change, the system is what we, the individual voters, make of it. We have all the power. We choose to remain in a 2 party system by voting for the two major party candidates. We don’t have to.
Be careful, one of the more slippery symptoms of BCS is the Issue Related Binary Choice. Sometimes, BCS sufferers will not talk about particular candidates, but will choose an issue to present as a binary choice. Recent cases of this have centered around the US Supreme Court. BCS sufferers will present the concern over the Court and then point to a binary choice as the only way to protect us from this runaway government branch. Previous cases have centered on the issue of abortion, LGBT rights, immigration, and many other social and economic issues. While concerns about issues may be valid, the binary choice is not.
You can be vaccinated against BCS by realizing that your vote matters, and you can choose who you will vote for based on your values, not your fears.
Everyone knows the big brother is the one who stands up to the bully for you.
Imagine you had a big brother who was always telling you that he would protect you, and look out for you. He was going to right all the wrongs. He loves you. Pretty great, right? The world is a messed up place, and he is going to fix it. Then you find out that he does that by threatening people, by calling people names, by forcing them to do things they may not want to do. He says that if anyone hurts you, he will not only hurt them but hurt their family as well. To make matters worse, you realize that a couple of years ago he wasn’t even your brother, he was a part of the people who are doing the things you don’t like.
That is Donald Trump.
He says he wants to make this country great again. And I’m sure that’s a part of what drives him. He says that he wants to help Republicans. But he also does all those things I mentioned: Yesterday he tweeted about people he knows in Chicago that shouldn’t work against him, because they have things to hide- implying those things would come out of they continue. He routinely calls people liars, and has used stronger language for his opponents and news reporters as well. He has said often that he will make Mexico pay for the wall and he has flip flopped a couple of times the the insurance mandate. He has said, and then not backed off when given the chance to, that he will not only kill terrorists but he will kill the families of terrorists. And up until a short while ago, he could have been described as a Democrat, based on his donations, positions, and comments about policy. He’s generally a jerk who tries to force his own will into ever situation.
That’s not leadership, that’s being a bully.
Being a bully might work some of the time. But every time a bully comes up against someone that stands up to them, they back down. Don’t believe this will happen with Trump?
A few days ago Trump was making noise about how Ted Cruz was lying and playing dirty politics. He threatened that if Cruz didn’t pull a TV advertisement, he would file a lawsuit claiming Cruz was ineligible to serve as president. Typical bully move, do as I say or I will hurt you. Cruz didn’t back away, he stood up to Trump. He dared him to file the suit. Trump, like all bullies will, backed down from the issue. The point isn’t whether Cruz was or wasn’t lying; it’s that Trump made a threat, a show of political and legal force, but backed down.
Now, imagine Trump negotiating with Iran, or even just Democrats. Imagine them getting tough with him when he tries similar bullying tactics. Trump will back down.
I know, politics and diplomacy always has some give and take. But bullies always back down, they never stand firm, even when they are talking about core issues/values.
We need a candidate who will stand firm, and not back down on issues that are important to us. We don’t need a bully.
Journalism used to be informing the public about what it needed to know. If you’ve ever seen the first couple of episodes of HBO’s “Newsroom” then you’ve seen a drama about the clash between modern “journalism” and real journalism. Now, that show went on to depict a heavy bias in it’s story line, but the conflict they portrayed in those first episodes was pretty accurate.
Journalism is dead. Instead, we have reporters and news sources that write to get page views and publish for ad revenue. I’m not naive enough to think that journalism used to not be about making money, but there doesn’t seem to be anything resembling journalistic integrity in the American news anymore. I’m sure there are notable exceptions, but, in general, news article and reports are slanted, left or right. Or toward whatever pet passion the author has.
Plus, many people think that an opinion piece, which might be written about the news, actually is the news. My blog is all opinion. Not news. I might report something, but I almost always cite an opinion about it.
Because we have almost no unbiased news sources to get the news from, we tend to find sources that match our own biases. I don’t go to CNN or CNBC, I go to Blaze or Fox or a conservative news source. We all succumb to something called “confirmation bias” where we search for, and interpret information in a way that confirms our preconceptions. I don’t want to read the bias of a news reporter I don’t agree with, so I tend to read those that are like me. And they tend to report news that affirms my view of things. Journalism, as we once knew it, is dead.
If journalism is dead, who should moderate the GOP Presidential debates?
The current election cycle has brought this issue to the forefront. It started with Fox and continued until this most recent debacle on CNBC. These debates, which should be about informing the public, have become focused on generating ratings and entertainment. And reporters are more interested in delivering a stinging opinion than asking pertinent questions about a candidates policies and politics.
Much has been (angrily- don’t click this link unless you are OK with rough language) written about this last CNBC debate. I will post just a couple of the questions from news reporters to the GOP Presidential candidates to illustrate this:
To Carly Fiorina, regarding reducing the tax code to three pages: “You want to bring 70,000 pages to three? Is that using really small type? Is that using really small type?”
To Donald Trump: “Is this a comic book version of a presidential campaign?”
Just two of the actual questions asked by reporters to Presidential candidates in this last debate. The tone of disrespect is just incredible.
So, obviously, Republicans are lviid. They have already pulled from a future NBC debate. And have begun talking about how they want to handle other debates. And the press has gotten it’s hackles up in defense. They claim it’s their job to ask hard questions.
And that’s true, but these were not hard questions, These questions would be more at home on a reality TV show than a debate platform.
So, what do we do?
The American people deserve to have hard, legitimate questions asked of candidates for the highest office in government. The current model isn’t working, and I don’t think we should have the campaigns run the debates either.
How can we hold a Presidential debate that would reflect a wider political bias?
-The Jury System– The major news networks still get to be a part of the debates and the associated ad revenue, but they don’t get to pick all of the moderators. Instead the GOP and the network get to propose 4-6 potential moderators each. And each gets 3 strikes. The network selects one, the GOP can accept or strike for any reason. (And the selection process is off the record.) The GOP selects one, and the network can accept of strike. The process continues until all 4 spots are filled. Both the GOP and network can strike moderators they dislike, but each gets at least one on the panel they like. The moderators select their own questions, and while they all know the questions in advance so they won’t double up, no other moderator can veto someone else’s question.
-The Youtube Debate- Youtube is a major online video platform. If anyone can handle the traffic, they can. The GOP works with Youtube (Or another platform). Major news networks can take a feed. By taking a feed, they are allowed to submit 2 questions that will be asked of each candidate. Americans are allowed to submit questions for the debate, and the GOP and Youtube pick from those questions. Youtube sells advertising, The networks agree to air a portion of Youtube’s ads, and then insert their own ads over the rest to cover their costs. GOP and Youtube split the cost of the venue. GOP and Youtube pick the actual moderators, who agree to ask the questions as submitted. Everyone can watch, either online or on TV. No one network can have influence over all the questions. The GOP doesn’t have say over all the questions.
Either of these models would result in a wider range of biases being represented in the questions. There would probably be some questionable questions, but that would be the exception, not the rule. It’s sad that we even have to worry about how to hold a fair debate, but at least when it comes to politics, journalism is dead.