Friday, September 17, 2010

Once more from the dog in the race

by Tom Driscoll

I spent a good amount of time at the polls Tuesday. Holding a sign for Mike Lake. I thought he was a candidate running for Auditor (but according to my radio the next morning 'Suzanne Bump beat Guy Glodis' so I must have been mistaken). I had previously posted a piece about how I thought Mike Lake's candidacy deserved more respect —that he should be treated at least like "a dog in the race" —maybe I was barking up the wrong tree?

While Suzanne Bump won handily, Guy Glodis edged out Mike Lake here in Holliston by about 23 votes. Lake beat Glodis in Framingham and Wayland. Yet Lake doesn't even warrant mention in the reports I hear on my radio in the morning?

The report l heard segued into coverage of the gubernatorial debate that had happened election night. Tim Cahill (whose poll numbers are running at about the same level Mike finished at) was given his place at the table. He got his voice heard in the reporting. There was even special focus in the news coverage of the fact Jill Stein had been excluded from the radio debate. She was given a voice in the morning air at least.

But the same reporting team refused to even mention Mike Lake in discussions leading up to the Auditors race (as I complained in my earlier piece) and he didn't even warrant mention in reports of the election returns (as I am complaining now).

There's something wrong here, folks. I don't mean to complain of the results of a fair election. I don't mean to start a conversation about why or how my candidate lost —and coulda or shoulda done better. I do get a bit concerned though about the media that lenses and filters our democratic process such that the guy who got 27.6% of the vote in my home town merits note and the one who received 23.8% gets dismissed as a "non-factor" not even worthy of mention.

One reason, in my opinion, that Mike Lake got the invisible treatment: he lacked monied backing or a useful role to play as a pawn for the folks who consider themselves 'the players' in our political game. He simply had an interest in the real work of the position and a commitment to try for it. I know that sounds a little bitter —and maybe it is. But there is something other than my disappointment I want to voice here.

I had someone tell me the other day, as I first started to vent on this topic, that in hindsight they saw why I liked my candidate, but that our political world is such that we simply can't expect the public to notice or respond to a candidate who is merely "a good guy who, all things being equal, is worth listening to.” I'm not quite sure if this person meant to console me or to rub salt in my wounds. Because in my world "all things being equal" isn't a bad starting premise, and "a good guy worth listening to" simply should in fact be listened to —media players shouldn't be making the call as to who gets heard. The public can't notice or respond to someone they never hear about.

And if the game of our politics is going to play out that way —if the media attention is to be so taken with the winner take all contest of "resources" and organization that the points "worth listening to" get forgotten or ignored in the first place —well it's incumbent upon us to demand something better. I do believe we have to change the whole mentality of how we elect our political leaders and public servants, within our parties as Democrats and Republicans, and in the general elections, as citizens. There's a step past being disappointed or angry, that is demanding something better. And towards that end —when something's not right it's wrong —and it's worth barking about.

No comments: