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Aug-02-2009 15:50TweetFollow @OregonNews
Op Ed: WHY Political Pandering
By Henry Clay Ruark for Salem-News
(EUGENE, Ore.) - Political pandering is today particularly prevalent precisely where it should never appear without solid precedent taken from national, reliable non-political sources -- in open-dialog channels on the the Internet.
Its major damage to our American democracy is becoming so obviously dangerous that it is demanding probing examination by all of us deeply concerned about the consequences for a democracy determinedly built on principles of honest, open --and thus democratic-- dialog by our Founding Fathers.
Did they have their own very-personal deep and desperate confrontations and conflicts ? Anyone who has ever even skimmed The Federalist Papers knows the inevitable answer to that one.
In fact, some very consequential confrontation was even known to be deadly --as in Hamilton’s duel with a longtime competitor, sometime colleague, and combatant on formation of foundation American political principle.
We do not today go so far as the deadly duels of the past... but pander provides a provisional substitute. It presents the probabilities of “killing off the opposition” --no matter the cost in reasonable, rational and resolving good faith discussion based on fact.
THAT approach is skillfully built on fancy furbelows which conceal and confuse the very foundations needed for open, honest democratic decision: Checkable, testable flat-out FACT ! Facts fall away to allow reversal of reality, deep and distinct distortion by linguistic means, and even perversion via paid-for pretense.
Predetermined patently-disproven “political principle” is carefully re-cogitated and skillfully restated to conceal its revision of deeply-held, long-tested American values and beliefs.
The only rational, reasonable rebuttal possible for such prevalent --now profound-- attack on deeply-held American view and value for honest, open democratic dialog is what we use constantly at Salem-News: Simple “see with own eyes” to check; and then “evaluate with own mind” to test --with resort to further sources and search if YOU find it necessary.
SO what’s “pandering” ? How does it occur as weapon used to distort tried-and-found/true honest and open political principle ? The definition is deceivingly simple: “Pander: (as in "gratify") v. : yield (to); give satisfaction to ...” (There are additional meanings, too: apply them as YOU see they fit for depravity of pander-perpetrated !) Applied to politics, the act of pandering demands knowing distortion --and often perversion-- of value and principle.
Does that really happen in American politics ? You betcha... it has been in-built, openly-stated, absolute action-sought attitude and the controlling determination for what can and often will be done. Its unavoidable, extremely damaging consequences can be seen, every day, on nearly every demanded action by our politically-chosen Congress --as well as in most State Legislatures.
The consequential damages and delay to what can, should, and now MUST be done, to return to what the Founders intended our leaders to do as their sworn duty, must again be accomplished: To act in the commonweal, not only in final decision but in all steps moving and measuring and manipulating and managing to get there.
Many millions of Americans have come to distrust and even to deny that particular and peculiar aspect of what the Founders found so promising and potentially productive in their original invention, long lauded in every land and political climate worldwide.
Multiple and now hardly-muted dangerously damaging affects and effects of overwhelming political pandering --seeking essentially the biggest and best benefits for the wealthy vs the workers-- have brought on the extremely debilitating damage-impacts broadly now felt by far too many Americans about every aspect of our tattered, torn and distressed democracy.
Pandering is perpetrated by both political parties via their overly-dedicated and often mis-led, as well as purposely mis-informed, advocates, defenders and sometimes well-paid hit-men hired to do the dirty work. Ostensible leaders simply stand back....if not above....the resulting bloody distortion of true democratic discussion --meant to lead to reasonable, rational decision devoted to the commonweal by our Founding Fathers. “WIN by whatever means” --at any cost of true American political principle-- has been the way of the most wily party partisans ever since the seminal and subversive emergence of early party-loyalty.
That’s demonstrated most definitively in the Presidential election of 1800, pitting Federalist against anti-Federalist, with highly consequential final-decision forced to fortuitous conclusion by then/weak pattern and protocol untried --and thus untested-- in any prior American election situation.
“Finally, a secret deal changing a single vote gave Jefferson the White House” --and its repercussions have resonated ever since, shaping and often distorting what our Founders first initiated as “an experiment in democracy”. (See ref. to “Adams and Jefferson” in Reader’s Note.) Let there be absolutely no question re the extreme value of open, honest, democratic dialog itself. That’s the heart and some feel the soul of what democracy is, and the driving force that makes it what it can become.
But for only-possible honest-usage of open channels now massively multiplied by technology, there must also be sure and certain action to protect, preserve, and project the integrity of what is contained in content, shaping both citizen understandings and final citizenoriented full and forceful democratic decision.
When we manipulate, “manage” --even reverse the obvious reality-- to fit and tailor fact for personal preference in such otherwise perfectible democratic dialog, we thoroughly damage, surely distort, and may even pervert the entire process by so doing. Inevitably, process and progression since 1800, driven by the immutable involvements brought upon us by many means and methods --surely including these massive impacts we now feel every day from digital delivery and rapid response to every passing condition-- now demand of us careful, highly considerate concern on how we use what is blessing-or-curse --depending on what we CHOOSE to DO With All of It !!
Careful cogitation is the continuing component we must now put into place to protect, preserve and project this operational tool as we both deserve and definitely MUST NOW DEMAND. Competent, compassionate, effective and ethical public statement demands absolutely no less, in these instant-response channels reaching millions the moment the statement is made.
Both our democracy and our own interests within it demand no less if we are to continue that experiment the Founders first set forth for all of us.
At 21, Henry Clay Ruark was Aroostook Editor for the Bango, Maine DAILY NEWS, covering upper 1/4 of the state. In the ‘40s, he was Staff Correspondent, then New England Wires Editor at United Press-Boston; later Editor for the Burlington, Vermont 3-daily group owned by Wm. Loeb, later notorious at Manchester, New Hampshire UNION LEADER for attacks on Democratic Presidential candidates.
Hank returned to Oregon to complete M. Ed degree at OSU, went on to Indiana University for Ed.D. (abd) and special other course-work; was selected as first Information Director for NAVA in Washington, D.C.; helped write sections of NDEA, first Act to supply math, science, foreign language consultants to state depts. of education; joined Oregon Dept. of Education as NDEA administrator/Learning Media Consultant for tenyears.
He joined Dr. Amo DeBernardis at PCC, helping establish, extend programs, facilities, Oregon/national public relations; moved to Chicago as Editor/Publisher of oldest educational-AV journal, reformed as AV GUIDE Magazine; then established and operated Learning Media Associates as general communications consultant group. Due to wife’s illness, he returned to Oregon in 1981, semi-retired, and has continued writing intermittently ever since, joining S-N in 2004. His Op Eds now total over 560 written since then.