November 11, 2004: Headlines: COS - Cameroon: Election2004: Journalism: The Capital Times: Cameroon RPCV Margaret Krome says Vote shows media failed

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Cameroon: Special Reports: Camerooon RPCV and Political Columnist Margaret Krome: November 11, 2004: Headlines: COS - Cameroon: Election2004: Journalism: The Capital Times: Cameroon RPCV Margaret Krome says Vote shows media failed

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Cameroon RPCV Margaret Krome says Vote shows media failed

Cameroon RPCV  Margaret Krome says Vote shows media failed

Cameroon RPCV Margaret Krome says Vote shows media failed

Margaret Krome: Vote shows media failed

By Margaret Krome
November 11, 2004

I appreciate all the get-well notes I received this past week.

In the two days following last Tuesday's devastating election, my e-mail was stunned to silence like a sudden turning off of Niagara Falls. Exhausted from weeks of canvassing, literature dropping, phone calling, I found inconceivable the prospect of four more years of unjust government actions taken in our name. I kept it together the first day and cried at the drop of a hat on Thursday.

Then one by one, I began to receive comforting and sometimes funny reassurances, lines of hope, personal vows to rejoin the battle, and plenty of post-mortem analyses.

Some people blame Kerry as a poor candidate. But especially in the last six weeks, he was strong and articulate. If a president who avoided military service could successfully misrepresent a war hero like Kerry as being unreliable on defense, whose record could better withstand such an assault?

Some blame the Democratic Party for a mediocre platform. Actually, thanks to one of the more informed primary campaigns in years, the election offered real and important contrasts between candidates. Kerry may not have been my optimal candidate, but he was a clear and excellent alternative to President Bush.

Some people blame evangelical and Christian voters. Clearly, many Christians were persuaded to vote based on one or two divisive social issues. But among this pro-life voting bloc are many who recognize the sacredness of the more than 100,000 lives killed in the Iraq war. The question is who successfully creates and communicates the biblical filter through which election choices are viewed? Is it the sole province of ultraconservatives, or can the church reclaim its long-established precepts of compassion to the needy, stewardship of God's creation, and peacemaking?

Some raise serious concerns about voting fraud. Certainly irregularities must be quickly and thoroughly investigated. This time, if a fair investigation reveals that any election results are compromised, we must challenge the outcome of those illegal elections.

But these analyses fail to explain how even a slim majority of the electorate could support a president whose tax policies clearly favor a small elite, whose environmental policies compromise the health of today's children and those yet to be born, whose foreign policy has been so disastrous. One thing is certain. An election can be said to reflect the will of a people only if electors cast informed votes. But in this election it's certain that they did not.

As much as I dislike polls, they tell a certain truth. This election, their truth was of a misinformed cadre of Bush supporters. Days before the election, 72 percent of Bush supporters surveyed still believed there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. Despite the 9/11 Commission's findings to the contrary, 75 percent believed Iraq was providing substantial support for al-Qaida. Fifty-eight percent said we should not have gone to war if no such weapons existed and if Iraq was not supporting al-Qaida.

Majorities of Bush supporters polled incorrectly believed that Bush supports participation in the International Criminal Court, the treaty banning land mines, the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty and the Kyoto Protocol on global warming. Clearly, there is no mandate for this election, given the faulty premises under which many people voted.

There are many important strategies for reclaiming democratic institutions. But none is more important than rebuilding the independent media so essential to a functioning democracy. The extent of electoral fraud remains to be seen. But the failure of our nation's consolidated media to provide accurate and impartial information to the electorate constitutes a far greater disenfranchisement.

I think of my post-election correspondence as get-well rather than condolence notes. Democracy hasn't died. When we get sick, it takes a while for our immune system to kick into action. Central to our nation's recovery will be a strategy shared by conservatives and liberals alike: forcing media reforms that require balanced reporting of facts and concerns important to the public.
Margaret Krome of Madison writes a semimonthly column for The Capital Times. E-mail:

Published: 8:01 AM 11/11/04

When this story was posted in December 2004, this was on the front page of PCOL:

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Story Source: The Capital Times

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; COS - Cameroon; Election2004; Journalism



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