Monday, November 07, 2005

A night of bizarre TV

I watched three programs back to back on TV last night that all struck me for different reasons.

First, my wife and I watched the two hour "Law and Order: Criminal Intent". There were a number of things that struck me but the one that is blog-worthy is that the blogs have now made it into mainstream TV. There were side issues, like what a nightmare it must be for a wife of an abusive judge to contemplate divorce. That said, the big issue in my mind was the central place, albeit negative in this case for one of the abhorrent defendants, was the new reality of the blogosphere.

After my wife went to bed I watched "The West Wing". This is the best West Wing ever, IMHO. I watched it after my wife went to bed because at the beginning of the season last year my wife complained that she did not want to watch it any more because of the leftist leanings of the show. I would have to agree that the show has had major lefty leanings from the start but I am a political junky so I cannot help myself. Tonight's show was special for a couple of reasons.

I will work backwards in priority. First, the show tonight was primarily about the fantasy of going back to an era of open debate. I, and I suspect my left of center friends, would love to return to an era of open debates. The 30-second sound bite politics is bad for everyone. I truly believe that a majority of the US electorate, that are not political junkies like me, are delegated to incomplete information when forming the opinions surrounding their votes. One can argue ad naseum about whether a truly open debate system, in the spirit of the Lincoln debates, favors one party or the other. I believe it would result in a more informed electorate. I may or may not wind up with a government that better reflects my views. I truly do not care. Our system was designed with a belief that the average citizen voted for his (women were not allowed to vote at the time which I believe was a great mistake) own best interest and beliefs.

The most basic weakness of our two party system is that people have a more natural inclination to vote for a candidate based on his affiliation with one party or another rather than the true positions of one candidate over another. A "lefty" Democrat in parts of the heartland is a "radical conservative" Republican in some major cities in the US. Approximately 70% of the US electorate votes a party line on both local and national elections. We don't vote for people or values any more, we as a country, vote based on a totally non-distinct distinction of party. I may be wrong here, but I believe at least part of that problem is that we do not put the distinctions of individual candidates foremost in the minds of the general public. We allow the "party structure" to define our candidates based on which party they belong to. I truly believe that the more we make the distinction about the individual views of politicians the better our government will be. The American people tend to like centrists for President. The center has shifted over time, but it is rare that, in terms of the true center of the overall views of the public, that a radical has been elected President. In some states it is a requirement to be out of center to be elected Senator and in many Congressional districts it is a requirement to be outside the center to be elected to the House of Representatives. This is the reality of "all politics is local". But wouldn't we have a better Republic if every politician had to stand up for his or her beliefs in an open debate?

Second, and perhaps more importantly to my wife (I will find out tomorrow), it was one of the least left leaning episodes of the show. There were only minor leanings in the "coverage" tonight. On some issues, they let the "left" position have the better argument, and on others, the "right" position was better supported. This is the reality for most of the inhabitants of "the greatest nation on God's green earth".

Lastly, I watched "Rome". I have greatly enjoyed this series and I am not sure why. My wife watched one episode and had enough. I really like it. I have no belief that this is a tremendously historically accurate portrayal of the political reality of the time. I have no intellectual background to challenge this series one way or the other. I admit that I am not nearly well read enough to have an opinion on the topic. I am intrigued by the social realities that I believe, by what little I know, are at least reasonably accurate. Tonight's episode leaves me saying "what the $#%@*"? As a "for instance", who was the guy who was hanged and what was the charge against him? It looked an awful lot like a freaky killing of Jesus. He was accused of being "king of the Galls" which is the same as "king of the Jews". I am also aware that the Romans had a different concept of "hanging" than we do. If you have ever been to Italy as an American you will be struck with a non-political reality. They have very few trees and a lot more marble compared to us. This leads to a reality that "hangings" were quite different in ancient Rome than less ancient early America where the practice was also quite popular. But who was the guy and why was he beaten and killed and what does it have to do with anything else in the show? I may have to bump in my "next to read" list non-political historical books on the realities of the Roman Empire. I suspect that will leave me more confused but better informed.


Post a Comment

<< Home