What About This? By Wayne William Cipriano

I didn’t watch the second pair of Democrat Party primary debates. I wanted to, but I couldn’t. We have an antenna connected to our television.We don’t have cable or satellite. Since we live in the woods, it would probably be a hassel to get someone out here to install one of those providers, and, most important to me, we escape the cost of pay television that can, each and every year, buy us a new, fancy television set.

With an antenna, and because we live up on a hill, we get fifteen channels (including two movie channels) and will get eighteen if Channel 21 ever spends some of the money they collect during their annual pledge drives that they have every six or seven weeks and gets back on the air. It’s true that we have to watch commercials, but I understand that many (most? all?) channels on pay tv also have commercials – imagine, paying for the opportunity to watch commercials!

My brother has cable and he is always complaining that there is so much for him to watch, and he has so much recorded for watching “later,” that he has no free time at all. It’s interesting that we frequently watch one show and tape another (especially when two good movies are on at the same time) just like Jim does.

But, with antenna television, you can’t, or I should say, we can’t, get CNN. And, that’s why I didn’t see the debates. Evidently, the Democrat Party sold the rights to broadcast the debates only to CNN and refused to allow any other network to carry them. How monumentally foolish.

15 or 20% of Americans watch television with antennas (like me). People not on cable need to have the opportunity to hear candidates who may become President of the United States of America. Call it a responsibility. No matter where your politics lie, I would suggest that these debates are important and we should all have the opportunity to watch. In fact, watching Democrats debate when you are supportive of the Republian Party, watching Republicans debate when you favor the Democrat Party, and so on, may give us an insight or two into where our vote should go. If we do not “watch the other guys,” how will we know who most closely parallels our most tightly held beliefs and where we will find those people? It isn’t always “our” party that supports our positions. Sometimes we learn that someone else does it better. And, overall, wouldn’t you say it is better to hear what someone said than to hear a report about what they said?

I understand that there is a lot of money to be made by selling exclusive access to any newsworthy event to one medium or another, one representative of that medium rather than all of them. And, as we all know, money many not be the most imporant thing in any political campaign, but it has got to be one of the top two or three. And, this far from the election, widely available coverage may not be as important as it will be after, say, Labor Day, next year. 

Still, how can we learn much about a candidate in an unscriptled, free-for-all atmosphere where not only the news media and the audience have access to them, but fellow party members running for the same office can engage with them, if we do not have the chance to watch interactions like these debates?

I am a big defender of party politics, since one person without the backing of a large group of like-minded persons can’t get a lot done in a democracy. But if we don’t hear what several members of “our” party uphold, or more improtant, disagree upon, how will we be sure the party we support is the one we should support?

Following politics, listening to speeches, checking out the truth, even watching debates can be confusing, frustrating, boring, even unhelpful at times when we are trying to decide where our vote should go. Dictators, monarchs, and anarchists, are always eager to relieve us of that confusion, that frustration, the boredom often associated with voting intelligently.

As always, it is totally up to you.