Location: Indianapolis, Indiana, United States

I'm just trying to develop an online body of work (even if the work is throwaway nonsense) to advance my writing career.

Monday, October 20, 2008

It's Too Much, But It's Just Right

It's a bit late now, but could Joseph Biden have really said that FDR went on "TV" following the stock market crash? If he meant "THE" stock market crash of 1929, Franklin Roosevelt wasn't even President yet. One of the chief reasons he became President was because of that crash. In addition, television was not widely available in American homes until after World War II.

When Barack Obama first selected Biden as his running mate, it looked like it might be a mistake. But then Biden got off to a pretty solid start. Now the same questions about his Both Feet In Mouth Disorder are surfacing again. Not that McCain's choice looks any better at the moment. Vice Presidential selections of the past have provoked some wry observers to ask if a running mate was tabbed because of his or her--okay, mostly his--ability to make the presidential candidate look better by comparison. While that may be, it's difficult to understand why either McCain or Obama, both of whom are impressive figures for different reasons, would need to do this.

So what else is going on in the world besides financial crises and election overexposure? Well, while we may rightly gripe about too much election coverage, Makwaia wa Kuhenga believes there is too little coverage in his native Tanzania. In a column for Dar Es Salaam's The Citizen, Kuhenga laments the paucity of public debates in Tanzanian politics and praises the American system for its transparency and civility, at least in this respect. While clearly not delighted with all things American, Kuhenga nevertheless writes:

"It is not simply true that everything the Americans represent is 'imperialistic'. One may pick a quarrel with their fundamental path - that is that they are fundamentally capitalist and imperial in real terms in their relations with other nations of the world. But it is also true that they have virtues worth emulating such as making its possible for the electorate to make intelligible choices in the competing voices."

That last sentence was a bit poetic, was it not? Americans may bristle at being characterized as "imperial" even if Kuhenga admits not "everything" we represent can be described that way, but Tanzanians might not warm to some American perceptions and generalizations about them, either. As a sidebar, we may ask ourselves if these perceptions are, in either case, true. Does the United States really stand for greedy imperialism and bellicose foreign relations? Does Africa really stand for corruption, antiquated tribal conflicts, and incompetent governance? Sadly, like many questions, the answers are a little bit yes and a little bit no. There's scarcely enough space anywhere to chronicle the historical factors that contributed to this nation and the African continent winding up in their respective positions at this moment in history.

But back to the point. There's no doubt United States elections generate more than enough hectoring and grandstanding to test any sane person's tolerance. But as Kuhenga's piece demonstrates, if one must choose between too little attention and too much attention to the political process, opt for the latter. The television and radio can always be shut off for a while, the newspaper left unread for a day or so. But if there's no coverage at all, you may very well be sorry.

Kuhenga's article can be read in its entirety using the following link:


Post a Comment

<< Home