We are now thick into the campaign with the debates underway. I challenge everyone who expects to opine on things after the debates to refrain from listening to, watching, or reading anything put out by the media for 24 hours after each debate. Instead, listen to what you have to say, not the political wonks. With more external stimuli coming from third party sources, rather than the candidates themselves, I think it’s fair to examine exactly how much of the ownership of our own opinions, we alone, actually hold.
I recently had the privilege to attend the Business Leaders Forum at the Villanova School of Business. The Keynote Speaker was Michael Smerconish. He raised a point that I think many us often don’t realize or appreciate the consequences. Today, candidates take their cues much more from the media than they do the general citizenry at large. Politics are much more divided than before. Paradoxically the majority of the voters want more centrism then extremism. The media exploits the chasms and take us, the voters along with them down to their lairs of extremist views (left or right). I share his contention that the dreadful divisiveness is, for lack of more gentle description, the media’s doing.
Why does this happen? Ratings! We get jazzed up. That’s great, we get jazzed up about The World Series and The Super Bowl too, but the stakes here are more than a little higher. (I am from the Philadelphia area so I have involuntarily built-up an immunity to getting too jazzed up about The Super Bowl.) Their enthusiasm is, by itself, not all that terrible except that it systemically influences things that it should not influence.
To the point behind the title of this post, the media also does much to influence us, the voters, as well. This is in part why politicians pay say much attention to what the media says – the views of media become our views. The media is supposed to influence our views on what they deliver about as much as paper with which a book is printed is supposed to influence our views of the book.
Let’s stop this nonsense and put the power of opinion back where it belongs – with you the individual. Let’s watch the debates if so inclined (I encourage you to do so) and rely on you and you alone to render an opinion. Don’t just become a repeater of the opinions of the media.
While around the proverbial water cooler they day after each debate, share opinions that you formulate all by yourself: opinions you own and are not the product of influence by the agendas of others. It’s your vote and only your agenda that counts. Without the din of outside institutional influences, I truly believe there would be much less animosity. we would still hold different views but I believe we would be much more respectful of those differences.
So once again, I challenge all of us to refrain from listening to the media on anything to do with the debates for a minimum of 24 hours after each debate to allow our own thoughts to process and be the lone (or at least primary) driver of our opinions.
As a closing comment, if you are one of those who couldn’t be bothered watching the debates but would rather wait to hear or read about it, may I suggest you learn who your favorite corespondent is voting for and vote for that person. Better yet, maybe not voting is (while not civic) the more honest approach. I don’t mean to mandate watching the debates. Our duty as citizens is to vote. And our duty as free thinking human beings is to formulate our own opinions. Debates are a great way to hear the candidates juxtapositional to one another without any third-party spin.
Thanks for reading. As always, thoughts and comments are welcome.
Have A Great Day!