September 17, 2014

Wondering, on Wednesday (v4)

I attended a candidate meet-and-greet at a friend's house last night; the evening was fun, the conversation interesting, and the candidate is one I'm happy to support. A couple of things from last night's discussion have got me wondering, on Wednesday:

What would political campaigns look like if local television and radio stations donated advertising time to the candidates, instead of charging them?  I don't mean a bazillion hours of it, but a reasonable block of minutes that the campaigns could use during a specific time period, say in the two weeks before a primary and the three weeks before a general election, during reasonably active time slots.

Candidates and their campaigns would not have to spend money buying face time, but instead could spend actual time face-to-face with voters, such as at events like the one I attended. And to make it that much more fun, what if the stations relegated the attack ads, paid for by political committees, PACs, unions, corporations and 'interest groups' to the overnight or early morning infomercial time slots?

Wouldn't moves like this help level the playing field for candidates, particularly those running against entrenched incumbents, or those from the minor-but-legitimate parties? And, given the requirements for having an FCC broadcast license, wouldn't it make sense if we viewers were treated as if we mattered, as if we were deserving of respect?
This license is issued on the licensee's representation that the statements contained in licensee's application are true and that the undertakings therein contained so far as they are consistent herewith, will be carried out in good faith. The licensee shall, during the term of this license, render such broadcasting service as will serve the public interest, convenience, or necessity to the full extent of the privileges herein conferred. 
We would encourage campaigns to conform to high standards in their communications (meaning no lies, half lies, or falsehoods allowed). They'd not be allowed to even mention their opponent except in the context of their platform. So, for instance, a candidate would be able to say "I believe that all moms should wear Army boots for comfort and protection, and if elected I promise that my office will provide Army boots for all moms..." but would NOT be able to say "my opponent's mother wears Army boots."

What do you think, does that make sense?

And I'm also wondering if there shouldn't be some kind of moratorium on incumbents handing out money during the election season?  We've had a couple of classics this season: the tax rebates, which were approved by the illustrious New York State Legislature and our Sonofa Gov Andrew Cuomo as part of the 2013 budget, are being mailed now (not one, but two separate checks for many New Yorkers), when all members of the Leg and the Gov himself are up for re-election. No reason to be cynical about that, right?

Well, how about this: Cuomo was in Syracuse Tuesday announcing some $55 million in grants, including $20M for the SUNY Water Research and Education Center, to be built in the Inner Harbor. Would it be cynical of me to think that this grant could have been announced after November 4th?  Would it be too much to ask that incumbents keep the moneybags in the vault from, say August to the day after the election?  After all, if the money is going to a valid project, it's just as valid one day as the next, right?

Take these ideas, put them together with other similar ones, such as having politicians stop bombarding us with mail during election season, and maybe - just maybe, we'll get people interested in candidates, and get them voting again.

Don't you wonder what that would be like?