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Thursday, March 8, 2012

American Politics and the Word Rhetoric

The word rhetoric is one which I had never encountered in my life up until I first began to take a deep interest in American politics just over four years ago yet one cannot have a serious discussion about the role of the media in American politics without using it. At the time of writing this, Tuesday March 6th2012, the possible Republican presidential candidates are preparing for the most hyped night of their race for the nomination so far. From where I am in France watching the major news outlets in America covering the race is has it has always been fascinating.

While I have already covered this topic in an earlier post I feel like the time is right to re-visit this issue given the historically low approval ratings of the American people in their congress and the hype surrounding the Republican race at least in the news media, if not in the general public.

In my last piece on the subject I focused almost soley on the Fox News channel who's founder Rupert Murdoch has said commenting in an interview available on Fox's own news site celebrating the channel's recent anniversary that the channel  as set up to tell "the other side of the story" in the face of the so called liberal "elite" media.

Martin Bashir -MSNBC
While I still believe the bile spewed by fox news is hurtful and damaging to democracy I have to learn the problem with the American media is a much more endemic one.  The coverage of the Republican primary results on MSNBC on super Tuesday was anchored by self confessed liberal Rachel Maddow and 3 of the networks other household die-hard liberal names. While watching clips from the station's Martin Bashir fronted programme I was struck by how childish some of these "news anchors" can be. He seemed to revel in making the kind of tasteless jokes about Republican candidates that are heard in the school yard. He stopped just short of picking on Gingrich for being the fat kid or Romney the rich kid and shouting neener neener neener whilst pointing and laughing.

But the networks are not solely to blame. Last week one of the most moderate senators in the US Olympia Snowe resigned citing the nasty partisanship of recent years as her main reason for doing so.  This was not a move to save face. Ms Snowe had never received les than 60 percent of the vote in any election to the Senate. Indeed when many pundits have claimed Obama was running against the dreadfully unpopular Congress to get re-elected it is clear there is something really very wrong in American politics.

For me that problem is the two party system. The American system fosters and encourages this rhetoric by forcing people to take a side. You are pro-gay marriage or against, pro abortion or anti abortion, pro higher taxes for the wealthy or against (To simplify the issue). There are no shades of grey with viable chancesof success as in most European countries.

However flawed the system is though it is necessary to work within it as it highly unlikely to change. Many pundits have tried to make the issue into one where both sides are equally to blame while the other side conjectures that it is just their side which is right. However, is it possible that one side of the aisle is more vitriolic than the other? I think perhaps it is........... part 2 tomorrow.

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