Super-Disaster Tuesday ahead

It is time to revolt.

Progressives, conservatives, reformers, and all who believe America faces serious challenges that require serious discussion should open their windows, as Howard Beale suggested in the movie “Network,” and say:
“I’m mad as hell, and I’m not going to take this anymore!”

Super-Disaster Tuesday warps our presidential campaign into another travesty of democracy: First, the early stage of the campaign turns presidential candidates into carnival barkers for the obscene amounts of campaign money that now dominate and distort our democracy.

I know countless members of the House and Senate, as well as would-be presidents, who are disgusted with the lifestyle of perpetual fundraising. The American people are appalled by the corrupting power of mass money over a system whose integrity they no longer trust, and whose corruption they will no longer tolerate.

Second, virtually all of these Iraqi-like tons of cash will be dumped into our living rooms, compressed into a period of days, through a massive deluge of television commercials drenched with negativity, character attacks and smears.

Finally, almost any weird, strange, sick, crazy, extreme, unexpected event occurring in the hours before Super-Disaster Tuesday will totally dominate the outcome; and of course there will be no rational process of discussion or response to any such last-minute event.

2008 began as a perfectly rational and improved system, with Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina giving voters in diverse states an opportunity to seriously consider the candidates. This is perfect.

Then, 2008 degenerated into a nuclear arms race, with one megastate after another elbowing each other until we have a giant blob at the front end, which disenfranchises every state that comes later and makes a mockery of serious dialogue in the Super-Disaster states.

We now have the near-total domination of money over our democracy, and the near-total domination of television over our politics.

Super Tuesday magnifies everything that makes the American people cynical about our system. The most critical moments of our democracy will be pumped into a microscopic time frame. The boob tube distortions will be dumped onto voters, who will be force-fed eight tons of broccoli in a 15-minute dinner.

Let’s step back and spread out the Super-Duper-Disaster Tuesday primaries.

Let’s focus on the people aspects of politics and the idea aspects of politics.

The early campaign debates will be unenlightening because there will be so many candidates, sharing so little time, each parroting staff-written bites hoping to be the quote of the evening.

Extending the primaries will allow longer, more serious debates with a smaller number of candidates and a higher standard of dialogue.

It would maximize the personal interaction between the candidates and the people. It would enhance the people-politics of voter turnout and make the next president far more sensitive to the regional and state issues of a diverse nation.

Today, Super-Duper-Disaster Tuesday makes candidates far more addicted to television studios and far more dependent on desperate front-end, and last-minute, fundraising.

An extended campaign enhances the quality of discussion and the integrity and rationality of the process. It would give worthy candidates the time to rebut the slanderous and negative attacks that the current system guarantees.

Liberals, conservatives, libertarians, populists, reformers — serious people of every persuasion, say it loud and clear: “We’re mad as hell, and we’re not going to take it anymore!”

Brent Budowsky is a former aide to U.S. Sen. Lloyd Bentsen (D-Texas) and Bill Alexander (D-Ark.), then chief deputy whip of the U.S. House. He is a contributing editor to the Fighting Dems News Service, and can be reached at brentbbi@webtv.net and read on The Hill’s Pundits Blog.

More in Op-Ed

A friendly warning from Canada to the new Republican Congress

Read more »