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Let's get the ball rolling...

  • Sep. 25th, 2008 at 11:09 PM
Hi, I'm Andrew. I'm an American working in the UK with some media groups and will assist in moderating this community. I'm absolutely obsessive about following coverage of this election, so it's really exciting to be here and see what the community thinks. There's so much that you all know and opinions that are complex - here in this community, overseas journalists will be able to ask you questions directly, and maybe you can help by offering up your "insiders view" of this election season in the United States. To get the ball rolling, I'll ask the first few questions and let the journalists follow suit.

So what does everybody think about the enormous attention paid to the election this cycle? 40 million people watched both the Democratic and Republican conventions - do you think that's because Americans are more engaged, or because there's so much at stake? And what about the debates... any predictions (assuming, of course, John McCain shows up)?


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tsmitty31 wrote:
Sep. 25th, 2008 10:25 pm (UTC)
On the debate...
Very curious to see how McCain's no-show for the debate will play out.

Loved Obama's comment that the next president needs to "deal with more than one thing at once."

IMHO, Obama's one of the most articulate politicians I've ever heard. I think he'd destroy McCain in a head-to-head debate. If I were McCain, I'd run and hide too.
poetpaladin wrote:
Sep. 25th, 2008 10:46 pm (UTC)
Re: On the debate...
Despite Barack Obama's deep background, 20+ Democratic debates already participated in, numerous town hall appearances and press conferences, constant keep-in-touches on the state of the economy and world affairs, well as his sharp wit and deep intellect - he has still taken time out to study up for the upcoming debate.

McCain apparently has spent very little time preparing - even cancelling his study session at a library recently.

Either McCain will show up, or he won't. If he doesn't, Obama plans on leading a "Town Hall" style forum at Ole Miss on Friday.
(no subject) - (Anonymous) - Sep. 25th, 2008 11:45 pm (UTC) Expand
Re: On the debate... - poetpaladin - Sep. 26th, 2008 08:38 am (UTC) Expand
Re: On the debate... - mundungus42 - Sep. 26th, 2008 12:25 am (UTC) Expand
poetpaladin wrote:
Sep. 25th, 2008 10:42 pm (UTC)
I think it's mostly because so much is at stake. We truly have gotten off on the wrong track in the past 8 years. With an expensive war abroad, our civil liberties under attack, financial deregulation and deliberately lowered interest rates creating a real estate bubble, subsequent financial crisis, high commodity prices, and economic recession, Americans are more worried than ever about our future. This is an election where, more than ever, everything is truly at stake.
chiyo_no_saru wrote:
Sep. 25th, 2008 10:47 pm (UTC)
I'm going to be cranky and say that it's partially because the administration has been such a failure, and partially that the election has become a hyped up political beauty pageant.
amanda_now wrote:
Sep. 25th, 2008 11:45 pm (UTC)
I agree with the second part of your statement. I think most Americans are lumping this election in with Dancing with the Stars and American Idol.
(no subject) - dignam - Sep. 26th, 2008 12:02 am (UTC) Expand
(no subject) - dignam - Sep. 26th, 2008 12:07 am (UTC) Expand
(no subject) - elfgrove - Sep. 26th, 2008 12:40 am (UTC) Expand
(no subject) - credendovides - Sep. 26th, 2008 01:12 am (UTC) Expand
principia wrote:
Sep. 25th, 2008 10:58 pm (UTC)
When things are going well for the country—or the perception is that things are going well for the country, the electorate doesn't seem to much care what happens at the conventions or pretty much anywhere else in the election cycle.

After 8 disastrous years with the Bush administration at the helm, including one election decided by Republican political appointees in favor of the candidate who lost the popular vote, and a second in which widespread voting irregularities were observed (including the head of the major electronic-voting-device-manufacturer, Diebold, publicly stating prior to the election that he would do anything to get Bush reelected), it's a good thing people have been paying more attention this time. And that's without consideration of who's running.

I suspect a fair number of swing voters were particularly interested in who would be chosen as the running mates for both tickets; whether those choices have led most of those voters to make a decision for one party, or led them to decide to abstain remains to be seen.

This is the first time within memory I've heard of any candidate having the temerity to decide the entire structure of the national campaign should be changed to suit his personal peccadillos... or lack of confidence and/or preparation. I'm very ticked off myself, but I can't say I represent the average voter.
(no subject) - (Anonymous) - Sep. 25th, 2008 10:59 pm (UTC) Expand
election_orange wrote:
Sep. 25th, 2008 11:12 pm (UTC)
Really? Blame the media?
It's fashionable to blame the media, but I think the entire conversation has evolved beyond that critique. Last week on Real Time with Bill Maher, one of the participants made what I believe to be a very valid point - in today's America, everybody's a pundit.

The 2000 election had a profound impact on the way the American electorate consumes information about the election. Never before has the common voter had so much knowledge and/or interest in the crosstabs of state polls. We're all over-informed and jaded, to the point we watch the campaign as sport.

A good friend of mine suggested yesterday that independents, in particular, are keenly interested in how the campaign plays out not in terms of what happens, but in terms of which candidate is the best political opportunist.

The "media" are an easy target. But if the circus has three rings, the other two are filled by the candidates and the voters.
(no subject) - (Anonymous) - Sep. 25th, 2008 11:27 pm (UTC) Expand
Re: Really? Blame the media? - valknott - Sep. 26th, 2008 12:04 am (UTC) Expand
Re: Really? Blame the media? - dignam - Sep. 25th, 2008 11:42 pm (UTC) Expand
Re: Really? Blame the media? - amanda_now - Sep. 25th, 2008 11:50 pm (UTC) Expand
Re: Really? Blame the media? - dignam - Sep. 25th, 2008 11:54 pm (UTC) Expand
Re: Really? Blame the media? - mine2clutter - Sep. 26th, 2008 12:00 am (UTC) Expand
Re: Really? Blame the media? - dignam - Sep. 26th, 2008 12:03 am (UTC) Expand
Re: Really? Blame the media? - amanda_now - Sep. 26th, 2008 12:04 am (UTC) Expand
Re: Really? Blame the media? - dignam - Sep. 26th, 2008 12:22 am (UTC) Expand
Re: Really? Blame the media? - dignam - Sep. 25th, 2008 11:49 pm (UTC) Expand
Re: Really? Blame the media? - mundungus42 - Sep. 26th, 2008 12:34 am (UTC) Expand
Re: Really? Blame the media? - blujay_ - Sep. 26th, 2008 01:09 am (UTC) Expand
Re: Really? Blame the media? - gymx - Sep. 26th, 2008 12:00 pm (UTC) Expand
(no subject) - nightsinger - Sep. 25th, 2008 11:28 pm (UTC) Expand
(no subject) - silver_chipmunk - Sep. 26th, 2008 12:05 am (UTC) Expand
(no subject) - artchess - Sep. 26th, 2008 02:07 am (UTC) Expand
tyskkvinna wrote:
Sep. 25th, 2008 11:45 pm (UTC)
There is a lot at stake. I think that's something everybody can agree on, whoever they are voting for this year. The polarising views I've seen have been absolutely astounding - moreso than I've witnessed in past elections.

I know a lot of people who are voting for the first time this year - in any election. They've just turned 18 and are looking forward to doing their duty as a citizen. It's been pointed out to me that for this age bracket, they can't remember a president other than Bush. For many of them, they were ten years old when he took office! They've just started to pay attention and they don't like what they see. I think it's great that they care - passion is far better than apathy.

The media coverage on this is a bit of a three-ring circus, but I think that was bound to happen. The democrat's primary cycle pretty much guaranteed it. We're making history here, and that's great to watch. No matter which party wins, there will be some pretty big "firsts" made for American history. And that's exciting. Excitement brings passion - and again, we need that far more than the apathy that's been going around the past few years.

I do think things are a lot different this time, on the media end of things. Everybody is a pundit today and information is so much more widespread than it was even just four years ago. I remember following the 2004 election and there just wasn't that much to follow, at least in comparison to today. And I guess if I had to ultimately choose, I'd opt for too much information rather than too little. If that means I have to filter out information about Obama's elementary school and Palin's choices in baby names, then fine. I think most people who use the internet for their news source are used to filtering information anyway.
fauxklore wrote:
Sep. 25th, 2008 11:47 pm (UTC)
What really strikes me is how much coverage there is outside the U.S. - including places that have little at stake directly. I was recently in Madagascar and about the only non-local stories the French language newspaper had were on the U.S. election. And I got a lot of questions from non-Americans (e.g. a Malawian tobacco farmer and a Canadian sapphire miner) about how I thought it would turn out.
mundungus42 wrote:
Sep. 26th, 2008 12:38 am (UTC)
When the US provides more money to fight AIDS in Africa than the target countries do, it's not at all surprising that non-citizens care who's in charge. As for the Canadian, I'm told that their political trends follow the US's by about 4-6 years. :D
(no subject) - rickynumber24 - Sep. 26th, 2008 04:32 am (UTC) Expand
sophia_sadek wrote:
Sep. 25th, 2008 11:47 pm (UTC)
Unconventional candidates
There is probably a certain increase in interest due to the Democratic Party's top candidates being of "unusual" gender and race. The nation is obviously turning a corner, and people are paying close attention.
mine2clutter wrote:
Sep. 25th, 2008 11:49 pm (UTC)
With me, it's the $$$. I'm concerned about jobs and government spending. Obama is a former community organizer, and I heard the job compared to being a social worker. Thus I'm scared that more social programs are going to pop up, because the US can't afford to keep spending money on the extras.

I'm leaning toward a Republican president because there's a Democratic controlled Congress. I like the idea that if anything gets done both sides must agree, kinda checks and balances.

Then again, Biden's slips are the stuff of talk shows.
amanda_now wrote:
Sep. 25th, 2008 11:53 pm (UTC)
I agree. I like the idea of a balance between Republicans and Democrats.
(no subject) - valknott - Sep. 26th, 2008 12:11 am (UTC) Expand
(no subject) - mine2clutter - Sep. 26th, 2008 12:23 am (UTC) Expand
(no subject) - rosicrucian - Sep. 26th, 2008 12:35 am (UTC) Expand
(no subject) - valknott - Sep. 26th, 2008 12:44 am (UTC) Expand
(no subject) - credendovides - Sep. 26th, 2008 02:42 am (UTC) Expand
(no subject) - mine2clutter - Sep. 26th, 2008 04:31 am (UTC) Expand
The extras? - jinty - Sep. 26th, 2008 11:09 am (UTC) Expand
Re: The extras? - mine2clutter - Sep. 26th, 2008 12:17 pm (UTC) Expand
wackinessensues wrote:
Sep. 26th, 2008 12:10 am (UTC)
I'm a bit of a politidork, so I always watch elections closely, but for many of my friends (who are mostly female and in our 20s-40s) this is the first time we've truly felt that our rights have been diminished and continue to be threatened by one of the candidates. It's amazing really, in my circle of friends there is not one person who does not feel that this election is the most important of our lives thus far.

America is in a truly dangerous place and it has nothing to do with terror. We are at a crossroads, and if we do not elect a candidate who has peace, the middle and lower classes, and our collective future on his mind then we may very well be lost as a country.
hippypaul wrote:
Sep. 26th, 2008 12:28 am (UTC)
We have a huge amount of attention paid to the presidential elections. In point of fact the 435 Representatives and the 100 Senators make most of the decisions that affect our daily lives. The presidential election is the magicians left hand always moving to distract you. The members of the Congress and the Senate enjoy a better than 90% return rate. If my state of Arkansas we have five federal offices up for grabs. Four reps and one senator. Four of the sitting members are Democrats one is a Republican. With the exception of a tiny Green Party all five of them are running unopposed. Just keep your eye on the dancing president.
credendovides wrote:
Sep. 26th, 2008 01:45 am (UTC)
A majority of people think they are above average drivers.

Which is to say, while the approval rating of the Senate and Congress may not be that great, the approval rating of individual members is comparatively much higher.
(no subject) - hippypaul - Sep. 26th, 2008 02:23 am (UTC) Expand
(no subject) - credendovides - Sep. 26th, 2008 02:32 am (UTC) Expand
(no subject) - hippypaul - Sep. 26th, 2008 12:05 pm (UTC) Expand
elfgrove wrote:
Sep. 26th, 2008 12:34 am (UTC)
Well, for one point. If they get this "bailout bill" hammered out before the debate, McCain will should make it to the debate. And, sorry to say this, but McCain earns points with me to go, y'know what, I'm going to stop the touring and campainng to go back and do this stuff in DC.

They're politicians. They get a lot of money via salary, "benefits", and more debatable/less scrupulous methods of payment to do this certain thing... Go to DC and represent the people that elected them. Funny thing that. They take these idiotically long "breaks". They get more vacation time than I would at the best job in my industry. They go schmooze. They hold press conferences. They campain for new offices. They do all these things that are NOT them sitting in DC and casting the votes to represent the people that elected them.

It makes me sick. So, the fact that when something really big comes up, McCain goes bac to do the job he was hired elected to do, I appreciate it. I'd appreciate it even more if they'd all go do thier jobs with a little more frequency. Ever look at the vote histories? Its absolutely atrocious how many times our elected offcials can't be bothered to even cast thier vote.


And as to why there's more attention this election year? We've had a woman running. We have a mixed-race canidate running. We have the oldest canididate in history running. We have a woman VP. We have a stock market doing gymnastics like it's the 1920s. and last of all... We have a war that over half the country -at the very least- isn't sure we should be fighting. And the guy who walked us into that war is leaving office no matter what.

It's history in the making, and everyone wants a little piece of it.
luis_mw wrote:
Sep. 26th, 2008 01:32 am (UTC)
I watched both, as much as I could. I am a British citizen, married to an American and living here in the UK. Given the enormous impact US policies can have over here, I am intensely interested in what goes on because, yes, there is so much at stake. I follow the news here and from US stations (on satellite) closely because of that. Despite the impact US policies have over here, I don't get to vote, so I have to pay attention.

I am hoping the debates will go ahead, if only as an antidote to the carefully managed media campaigns. The VP ones should be even more entertaining.

(PS, I'd like to be considered as a poster)
vickibruce wrote:
Sep. 26th, 2008 02:25 am (UTC)
Election 08
If, after eight additional years of deregulation, vetoes on most bills by this standing president, and a do-nothing congress (for 6 of the 8 years) our country wants more, than McCain is the choice. If we truly want alternative energy programs, regulation more than deregulation on wall street, an end to our involvement in Iraq, Obama is our choice.
ysabetwordsmith wrote:
Sep. 26th, 2008 05:28 am (UTC)
I'm a professional writer and editor. On the journalism side, I've edited a magazine and done a few newspaper articles. My blog is mainly intended as a part of my wordsmithing career, but I've found myself posting often about politics, including news clips and personal musings. I had a couple of people say they wanted less news -- and a torrent of protests from others in my audience who are using my blog as a key source of news and discussion. I've carefully cultivated a thoughtful audience and a congenial atmosphere, so we've had some very enlightening discussions.

I think the intensity of the current election is fueled by these and other factors:

* Voter apathy, election mishaps, and poor information in previous elections have seated a batch of representatives who have, collectively, mismanaged the country so badly that it hurts many ordinary Americans' ability to meet their daily needs.

* Many people are aware of some urgent issues, such as global warming, which concern them greatly but have received minimal government attention to solving the problems.

* Many people feel that America is going in the wrong direction, and urgently wish to get it back in the right direction. Remember that the complete adage is: "My country, right or wrong. If right, to be kept right. If wrong, to be MADE RIGHT."

* Some people are happy with the direction the country is going. They are urgently concerned with protecting their gains from the people who are desperately unhappy with the direction.

* In all probability, this election will break one of two glass ceilings: we'll have either a black President or a female Vice-President. Regardless of one's feelings towards either of them, that is a historic occasion. It draws attention. That's good.

I'm thrilled to see so many people participating in the election. My main worries are:

* Election interference is already strong and growing. That puts the results in doubt, and we know that before the voting even starts. That's a disgrace.

* A lot of misinformation is being flung around. I prefer elections to be based on demonstrable facts, not half-truths and outright nonsense. People can't make good decisions with bad information.

* A small number of vastly-monied people are doing their best to manipulate the election, among other things, to their advantage at the direct expense of the ordinarily-monied people who make up a majority of We The People. Considering that said vastly-monied people are largely responsible for the policies (or lack thereof) leading to the current economic collapse, giving them even more power seems more likely to create further disaster than improvement. After all, if their policies worked well, the economy wouldn't be collapsing.

* Tightly connected to the above is a tendency to make the election about image rather than issues. Forget the image. Really. If the issues aren't fixed, quite promptly, we will all be in far too much trouble to worry about anyone else's religion, family life, or other distractions.
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