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Comparing Obama to Fidel Castro ? Pretty worthless.

The US needs to find a way to improve the quality of debate very quickly. Large institutions are now being revamped without the public's full understanding of what is happening and comic-book-level discussion will only hasten a full collapse.

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Comparing Obama to Fidel Castro ? Pretty worthless.

The US needs to find a way to improve the quality of debate very quickly. Large institutions are now being revamped without the public's full understanding of what is happening and comic-book-level discussion will only hasten a full collapse.

Seems to me that the quality is identical to war drums and rifles seen in Canuck political discourse. So the US needs to do it better / smarter? Why?

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Because the debate is almost never about facts, but about personalities and cultures. Compromise and hybrid solutions don't seem to come out of the type of dialogue that goes on now.

The US system produced better results in the early mid 20th century, I believe because there was a better quality of debate.

If it's about culture wars and personalities, then we will never elect leaders who will provide solutions to our problems.

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Because the debate is almost never about facts, but about personalities and cultures. Compromise and hybrid solutions don't seem to come out of the type of dialogue that goes on now.

The US system produced better results in the early mid 20th century, I believe because there was a better quality of debate.

If it's about culture wars and personalities, then we will never elect leaders who will provide solutions to our problems.

No, the quality of debate hasn't really changed, just the proliferation of media and analysis...and the attention span of the target audience. Fireside chats with FDR just don't cut it anymore. Leaders often provide more problems than solutions.

Distrust of government and "leaders" (to the point of mocking) is a very American idea...just ask King George III.

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No, the quality of debate hasn't really changed, just the proliferation of media and analysis...and the attention span of the target audience. Fireside chats with FDR just don't cut it anymore. Leaders often provide more problems than solutions.

I completely disagree.

And if the attention span of the audience has presumably narrowed, how can the quality of debate not change ?

There's a 24 news station in my town that shows 25 year old news broadcasts at 3 am. If I happen to catch one, I'm usually surprised with the depth of reporting on stories.

Distrust of government and "leaders" (to the point of mocking) is a very American idea...just ask King George III.

Of course, but the success of the American experiment arose from where ? I would say from a government that produced a better system than anywhere else in the world.

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I completely disagree.

And if the attention span of the audience has presumably narrowed, how can the quality of debate not change ?

It hasn't changed at all in the context of message, attacks, obfuscation, and dirty tricks, except for the means to do so. You cite mid 20th century America, where Goldwater was slayed with a single ad known as "Daisy Girl" in 1964...it had "God", a child, and paramount fear mongering, just like the very amateurish production seen today in Quebec markets.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OKs-bTL-pRg

There's a 24 news station in my town that shows 25 year old news broadcasts at 3 am. If I happen to catch one, I'm usually surprised with the depth of reporting on stories.

There are more competing interests today for consumer attention. The political process has to compete with that using the same bandwidth. The style may be dead (e.g. William F. Buckley), but the message is the same.

Of course, but the success of the American experiment arose from where ? I would say from a government that produced a better system than anywhere else in the world.

Better for Americans perhaps, but definitely not the rest of the world.

Edited by bush_cheney2004
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Yes, "Daisy Girl" is very familiar to me, and to my mind the beginning of the end - the union of Madison Avenue to the political process from which the US hasn't yet recovered.

Of course, but the success of the American experiment arose from where ? I would say from a government that produced a better system than anywhere else in the world.

Better for Americans, yes. When a better system is produced, then others are forced to imitate it and they all get better.

The message may be the same, in that they're saying "vote for me" but the quality of the debate does matter.

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....The message may be the same, in that they're saying "vote for me" but the quality of the debate does matter.

Perhaps, but to a smaller and smaller audience....the vast majority are busy with too many other things and are far more interested in just being entertained. Canadians often deride the American campaign season, particularly its growing duration, yet there is actually more "debate" to be had. Still, it is a straightforward exercise to demonstrate America's long experience with yellow jounalism, fear mongering, xenophobia, elitism, religion, racism, etc. in political campaigns before 1964.

And more to the point, any alleged disparity in the quality of debate certainly did not translate in better policy or results.

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Perhaps, but to a smaller and smaller audience....the vast majority are busy with too many other things and are far more interested in just being entertained. Canadians often deride the American campaign season, particularly its growing duration, yet there is actually more "debate" to be had. Still, it is a straightforward exercise to demonstrate America's long experience with yellow jounalism, fear mongering, xenophobia, elitism, religion, racism, etc. in political campaigns before 1964.

Agreed. It's incorrect to say things were perfect before 1964. But it was better.

Smaller audience ? A small audience is better, in my opinion.

And more to the point, any alleged disparity in the quality of debate certainly did not translate in better policy or results.

You don't think that the US had better policy in the mid-20th century than today ?

I do.

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Agreed. It's incorrect to say things were perfect before 1964. But it was better.

If by better you mean oratory and statesmanship, then there are plenty of examples that say otherwise.

Smaller audience ? A small audience is better, in my opinion.

This goes down a very different path, one that is far less "democratic". A different idea altogether.

You don't think that the US had better policy in the mid-20th century than today ?

I do.

No I don't....I think America has the exact same policy....American interests. The difference is that domestic policy has much improved for a large segment of powerless "minorities", including women and the disabled. America is a better place today even as the pillars of financial power so coveted by the usual suspects (even better spoken ones) are crumbling (again...I might add). As seen from the outside, I suspect any better or worse opinion is similarly influenced. If you think America acts unilaterally today, you would not have liked most of the 20th century version either.

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If by better you mean oratory and statesmanship, then there are plenty of examples that say otherwise.

Start from FDR and go to... Nixon even. I don't know about 'oratory' and 'statesmanship' but these were administrations that were run more effectively don't you think ?

This goes down a very different path, one that is far less "democratic". A different idea altogether.

Not if there are no barriers to participation. If people don't wish to participate in democracy because they're too lazy or bored to follow the issues, then we probably don't want them to participate.

No I don't....I think America has the exact same policy....American interests. The difference is that domestic policy has much improved for a large segment of powerless "minorities", including women and the disabled. America is a better place today even as the pillars of financial power so coveted by the usual suspects (even better spoken ones) are crumbling (again...I might add). As seen from the outside, I suspect any better or worse opinion is similarly influenced. If you think America acts unilaterally today, you would not have liked most of the 20th century version either.

Well, yes, as with your assertion that the 'message is the same', the purpose of policy is the same - to improve life for Americans.

Yes, America acted unilaterally in the mid 20th century, and more so as their power increased.

But it was done more intelligently. If that wasn't because there was a better machine of democracy in place, better debate, and more focus on issues and facts, then I'm interested to hear why it was ?

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...But it was done more intelligently. If that wasn't because there was a better machine of democracy in place, better debate, and more focus on issues and facts, then I'm interested to hear why it was ?

The history of American foreign policy in the 20th century is not without "stupidity", so judged by others usually after failure (e.g. Warsaw Pact, Cuba, Vietnam). The same peanut gallery pronouncements are made about perceived "intelligent" policies. In the end, the Americans will do what they will with only themselves as the ultimate (and most relevant) judges for political purposes.

I can assure you that the American public has been manipulated in very undemocratic ways since even before "Remember the Maine!" was cried in New York headlines. It is the same as it ever was.

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The history of American foreign policy in the 20th century is not without "stupidity", so judged by others usually after failure (e.g. Warsaw Pact, Cuba, Vietnam). The same peanut gallery pronouncements are made about perceived "intelligent" policies. In the end, the Americans will do what they will with only themselves as the ultimate (and most relevant) judges for political purposes.

Of course there are always mistakes, and hindsight is 20/20 etc. Generally, though, the successes have outweighed the failures. Why ?

In my mind it's because there was a better level of debate, and more of an inclination to allow intellectuals and experts of every political stripe to drive policy, rather than political operatives.

Do you think that the level of debate today is actually comparable to the past ?

The "Daisy" commercial was seen as fluff, but today I think it would be regarded as a solid and serious campaign.

I can assure you that the American public has been manipulated in very undemocratic ways since even before "Remember the Maine!" was cried in New York headlines. It is the same as it ever was.

But what is different ? I ask you.

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Of course there are always mistakes, and hindsight is 20/20 etc. Generally, though, the successes have outweighed the failures. Why ?

Successes for whom....the Americans or the hapless victim of such policies? Do you really think that there was much studied debate and "democracy" before the numerous US military and economic invasions of the Americas, Europe, and Asia? Many were just reactions to threats that finally impacted American interests....hell...the USA could have just as easily joined Germany during WWI.

In my mind it's because there was a better level of debate, and more of an inclination to allow intellectuals and experts of every political stripe to drive policy, rather than political operatives.

Nope...it was the usual imperative of economics and geopolitics, not pointy headed intellectuals speaking well.

Do you think that the level of debate today is actually comparable to the past ?

The "Daisy" commercial was seen as fluff, but today I think it would be regarded as a solid and serious campaign.

But what is different ? I ask you.

Yes, I think it is identical in message if not style. The Daisy commercial is most certainly not seen as fluff, and was imitated by Hillary Clinton's campaign against Obama ("3 AM Phone Call").

It is fine to think of a past America where it pursued self interest with the "intelligent" exercise of economic and military power, but not even those kind of rose colored glasses can hide the facts.

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Successes for whom....the Americans or the hapless victim of such policies? Do you really think that there was much studied debate and "democracy" before the numerous US military and economic invasions of the Americas, Europe, and Asia? Many were just reactions to threats that finally impacted American interests....hell...the USA could have just as easily joined Germany during WWI.

For the Americans.

It seems to me that the quality of debate was better.

Maybe the difference was that there WAS a debate. I don't know.

QUOTE

In my mind it's because there was a better level of debate, and more of an inclination to allow intellectuals and experts of every political stripe to drive policy, rather than political operatives.

Nope...it was the usual imperative of economics and geopolitics, not pointy headed intellectuals speaking well.

QUOTE

Do you think that the level of debate today is actually comparable to the past ?

The "Daisy" commercial was seen as fluff, but today I think it would be regarded as a solid and serious campaign.

But what is different ? I ask you.

Yes, I think it is identical in message if not style. The Daisy commercial is most certainly not seen as fluff, and was imitated by Hillary Clinton's campaign against Obama ("3 AM Phone Call").

It is fine to think of a past America where it pursued self interest with the "intelligent" exercise of economic and military power, but not even those kind of rose colored glasses can hide the facts.

Well, I'm obviously not trying to say that Clinton's campaign would be better than anything in the past.

Ok, then you think the level of debate is the same as it ever was. Do you think the apparatus of government is managed as well as it ever was ? Maybe you think everything is a cycle and nothing ever really changes.

I think that culture wars and personality-based discussions are pervasive and worse than ever. I also think that these things detract from any strong leader - Republican or Democrat - fixing the system.

Edited by Michael Hardner
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Ok, then you think the level of debate is the same as it ever was. Do you think the apparatus of government is managed as well as it ever was ? Maybe you think everything is a cycle and nothing ever really changes.

I think that culture wars and personality-based discussions are pervasive and worse than ever. I also think that these things detract from any strong leader - Republican or Democrat - fixing the system.

Correct...I think the message and practical impact is the same when stripped of the differently (not better) polished veneers of the past.....certainly far more people died back then.

There is no "fixing" to be had....many lament that both American major parties are just two sides of the same coin. Strong leader is an oxymoron if it requires the support and backing of the voting public, many of whom never bother to show up at the polls. So yes, these cycles and perceptions are the same as it ever was. The only constant is power...those who have it...and those who want it.

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Correct...I think the message and practical impact is the same when stripped of the differently (not better) polished veneers of the past.....certainly far more people died back then.

I do think that things are better now than people realize - and that the low quality of debate is one of the reasons we don't realize that.

I also think that elections are marketing campaigns, and that serious problems are being ignored more than they were in the past, just because it's not politically convenient to fix them.

There is no "fixing" to be had....many lament that both American major parties are just two sides of the same coin. Strong leader is an oxymoron if it requires the support and backing of the voting public, many of whom never bother to show up at the polls. So yes, these cycles and perceptions are the same as it ever was. The only constant is power...those who have it...and those who want it.

The people who don't show up at the polls have made the right decision. The fewer lazy uniformed voters we have, the better.

And I also lament the major parties in the US and to a lesser degree Canada - they're both victim to the same disease, which you don't seem to think exists.

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...And I also lament the major parties in the US and to a lesser degree Canada - they're both victim to the same disease, which you don't seem to think exists.

That's because it is not a disease but rather the chronic condition of the body politic. Canada has the same drama with more than two major parties (by design), hardly achieving "Peace, Order and Good Government". I don't know what "better" would look like compared to the continuum of American politics, which included a bloody civil war.

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That's because it is not a disease but rather the chronic condition of the body politic. Canada has the same drama with more than two major parties (by design), hardly achieving "Peace, Order and Good Government". I don't know what "better" would look like compared to the continuum of American politics, which included a bloody civil war.

If you don't know what "better" would look like can you imagine worse ? I can. Think about perpetual culture war, inability to create common ground maybe even violence. From what I can see culture wars look pretty much like religious wars.

If the entire system is retooled, then we can restart from zero.

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If you don't know what "better" would look like can you imagine worse ? I can. Think about perpetual culture war, inability to create common ground maybe even violence. From what I can see culture wars look pretty much like religious wars.

If the entire system is retooled, then we can restart from zero.

I don't think so...there are worse things than culture wars and violence. That's how America was born.....complete with great oratory and statesmanship of old:

...Sir, we are not weak, if we make a proper use of the means which the God of nature hath placed in our power. Three millions of people, armed in the holy cause of liberty, and in such a country as that which we possess, are invincible by any force which our enemy can send against us. Besides, sir, we shall not fight our battles alone. There is a just God who presides over the destinies of nations, and who will raise up friends to fight our battles for us.

The battle, sir, is not to the strong alone; it is to the vigilant, the active, the brave. Besides, sir, we have no election. If we were base enough to desire it, it is now too late to retire from the contest. There is no retreat but in submission and slavery! Our chains are forged! Their clanking may be heard on the plains of Boston! The war is inevitable -- and let it come! I repeat it, sir, let it come!

It is in vain, sir, to extenuate the matter. Gentlemen may cry, "Peace! Peace!" -- but there is no peace. The war is actually begun! The next gale that sweeps from the north will bring to our ears the clash of resounding arms! Our brethren are already in the field! Why stand we here idle? What is it that gentlemen wish? What would they have? Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty, or give me death!

Patrick Henry - March 23, 1775

Edited by bush_cheney2004
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