Both of these argumentative papers were written respectively by Samuel Popkin and Anthony King. Popkin argues that the commercialism of the electoral process is responsible for the low voter turnout. He believes that the campaigners must focus more on real political issues in order to stimulate voter turnout. King also believes that the media has affected the government for the worst. His solution to the problem is to give our representatives longer terms, relieving the stress of campaigning, and thus giving them more time to focus on the issues. In his paper, Popkin acknowledges the fact that the majority of the American people get their information about their governors through television. This gives the media an extraordinary amount of power. Their coverage and opinions can effectively make or break an election.
This in turn makes many politicians very consciences of what they say and do in front of the camera. They are not really able to express their full opinion, due to time constraints and fear of being made a fool of. A good example of this is when Nixon lost to Kennedy in 1960. Their last debate killed Nixon’s chance for the White House that year. Another problem with the media is that a good politician can cover up his mistakes. If he lacks knowledge on a particular issue he can pretend to cover this mistake with quick words or a broad slogan that doesn’t even answer the question. These days the political campaign has turned into a mass art in which the message is translated so that the simplest man can understand it. This in turn hinders the smarter, and usually more interested viewer, from learning what the candidate is truly about. This makes the voter uninterested in the campaign, alienating even more people.
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With so many issues having to be addressed, it is hard for the candidate to give a clear opinion on his beliefs. This forces him to spend his very short amount of time on the air talking about main issues. Not spending time on the smaller threats can be a pitfall in a politician’s political career and eventually a problem for the American people. Popkin believes that on the road campaigning would diversify the candidate’s topics of discussion, thus giving you a better feel for who you’re voting for. The media has also dismembered the structure of the political party. The more important elections have essentially singled out the nominees from their groups. This seems to be usually a repercussion of mudslinging and other forms of bad politics. All in all, it is detrimental to American society.
King also believes that the media has an unfair stranglehold on how we view our governors. He feels that the politician’s fear of the people’s opinions dictates what actions they take and when they do them. Although we do want a person who listens to the people, we shouldn’t want one that passes bills so he won’t lose his job. King’s solution to this problem is to lengthen the terms, namely in the House and the Senate. This will the governor more time to deal with the issues at hand, and less time worrying about job security. He also believes that reducing the exposure of politicians on the screen will make them once again interested in the fate of their country.
I believe that both of these men make very good points. As far as a King goes, his ideas of making the terms longer is a good idea, if it is done correctly. He wants to change the House and Senate terms to four and eight years, with elections being held every two and four years. Personally, I would make the elections for the House every two years, and the Senate every four years. This would prevent large groups of like-minded politicians from getting into office and controlling the legislature. Besides, these primary elections are made on the state level, not necessarily needing the support or time of the major political networks. On top of this, there should be an effective checking system in case a politician gets out of line with the people he’s representing.
Popkin also makes many valid points in his paper. Going out and meeting the people on the regular really shows what kind of person you are. It tests the person’s character and resolves by putting them in the spotlight without their armies of aids to help them. We want to see a politician who will show his emotions, not one who does satellite broadcasts on a set reading off a teleprompter. Both of these men also think that the amount of money spent on primary elections should be changed also. Although I think that it should change due to inflation, I believe that this is something that shouldn’t get out of hand. Popkin uses Japan as an example of a country that spends more money on its campaigns. Currently, they are in a bad recession, showing that money doesn’t always necessarily make the best running mate.
In conclusion, both of these men agree on the problem, just not in the methods of solving it. Popkin desires more work out of his politicians. King’s idea on the other hand has essentially given up on changing the media and has asked to reconstruct the way primary elections are held. I think that both of these methods could be used effectively together. Through hard work, we could reformat the way media covers electoral races. We could also take some pressure off the politicians themselves. I believe that both of these things are necessary due to our changing environment. Many nations and empires have fallen due to poor legislature or stagnation. Maybe the policies, not the principles, our forefathers gave us over two hundred years ago are finally outdated.
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