[eDebate] thoughts on caucus
Tue Jun 23 13:53:43 CDT 2009
segal is a super-sharp fellow from st. mark's before emory. i believe he went into lobbying against tuna fishing after law school. lost him thereafter.
my number one wish on my caucus wish list is that the caucus include some inclination to re-include public debate in the process of policy-making at the federal level.
what happens on the floor of the congress simply does not gather the attention of the american people as the presidential elections do. important heads up debate format debates only happen in this country on prime time television once every 4 years. this is sad especially because the presidential debates only include prospective policies based on promises which have a habit of being broken or modified, i.e. there is a lot of posturing in the presidential debates telling the public what polls show they want to hear. CSPAN fails to bring public debate to the public. congressional debate (which may lack focus for audiences) or some alternative needs to be more visible through a new form of debate television programming with content decisions divorced from the private sector. this approach could bring the blogosphere to a new level of impact.
these bills are long with inclusions and additions on top of the meat. the people who are represented in congress don't even know what they say much less the best arguments for and against or the possibly better positions that were excluded. we live in a world of spin with tiny enclaves of meaningful public debate that directly impacts policy votes.
obama has shown a willingness to mimic bush and ram through bills citing immanent crisis and executive authority ("I won!" the stupidest line of his presidency) at the expense of public debate. his transparency ideas do not go far enough and seem by design to more promote the image of open government than open government. transparency without vigorous public debate is not transparency. we can not rely on the executive branch to reign in executive power post-cheney as senator byrd has demonstrated in his objections to obama-czar phenomenon.
another problem with debate in this country is lobbyists. with populism back in vogue, more candidates are anti-lobbyist but they don't want to tell the whole story about the role of lobbyists in policy formation which includes the expenditure of a lot of money to frame policy debates before they happen. think-tanks are almost exclusively tied to special interests and years in advance of policy decisions they flood the hill with the main ideas that shape those bills down to the key phrases and talking points for the spin package. think-tank-heads are increasingly filling white house posts. any meaningful speech and debate caucus will challenge the stranglehold of think-tanks on public debate by asking questions about what debate really is or could be.
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