Prominent pundits seem ecstatic over Hillary Clinton’s entry into the presidential race just days after Barack Obama’s media-created candidacy became official. Media talking heads are having so much fun lately they don’t seem to notice that our political system is failing to address ever-worsening problems: social, environmental, fiscal and imperial.
Indeed, our country’s political decline in recent decades has been abetted by the decline in mainstream media. The same media outlets that were complicit in the disastrous Iraq war are bent on turning politics into an insular celebrity club in which only they get to anoint frontrunners.
If the torch of leadership passes from Bush I to Clinton I to Bush II to Clinton II, it will be a loss for our country – but a victory for a corrupt Beltway press corps that abhors fresh ideas, especially those that challenge its power and privilege. It was a frightened national press corps that vilified the netroots supporters of Democratic outsider Ned Lamont in defense of pro-war warhorse Joe Lieberman.
For the coming election season to be fact-based and reality-based instead of just power-based, independent media (online and off) will have to play a bigger role in shaping the debate and correcting the record. For example, a recent San Francisco Chronicle news report (headlined “Obama Emerges as Clinton’s Rival for Dems’ Left”) asserted that Hillary Clinton was “widely regarded as the left’s most influential voice inside the now-revered Clinton White House.”
Widely regarded? Actually, progressives see Hillary Clinton as having been consistently wrong on the war and a host of other issues, especially trade. Her absurdly bureaucratic healthcare proposal in 1993 – shaped by and for big insurance companies – was a slap in the face of unions, Congress members and grassroots forces who’d built a movement for simple, nonprofit national health insurance: in effect, enhanced Medicare for All. She helped set back the cause of universal coverage for years.