Bring issues into focus for election

(Portland) Commercial Review

Are you or anyone you know actually excited by the fact that the 2016 presidential campaign is underway?

Of course not. It’s 2015, and it’s springtime at that. There are dozens of other more pressing issues facing us both nationally and internationally.

So why does American journalism focus so much attention on presidential politics?

Answer: Because it’s easy.

Political journalism is the laziest form of journalism on the face of the Earth.

It’s all about who is ahead, who is behind, who has stumbled, who is raising the most money, whose campaign commercial made a splash.

It is, in short, about the game — the game of politics.

Decaying infrastructure? Way too complicated. It involves way too much homework, too many numbers, and it won’t attract enough eyeballs on the Internet.

Global warming? It’s much simpler to talk about it when set up as a political dichotomy, one side vs. another side. It’s much more complicated to explain this isn’t about two equal points of view but about science vs. money. And, besides, when you point that out, you are quickly accused of not being sufficiently objective.

Race in America? Only in the context of politics, where it can be quantified in terms of who wins the next election.

Changing attitudes about tolerance, discrimination, gay rights and religion? Only if the whole complicated, nuanced, often uncomfortable issue can be boiled down to a dumb question like: Would you attend a gay wedding?

At best, this sort of journalism is both stupid and lazy.

At its worst, it undermines serious discussion in this country about the very, very serious issues facing us as a nation.

Wouldn’t it be nice to have a thoughtful discussion about how the heck we are going to deal with the violent soup of the Middle East and all its complexities without reducing it to the level of which presidential candidate will get a bump in the next poll?

Focus on the issues, and let the political sideshow roll on without you.

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