Information Makes Our Democracy Better

Sep 30, 2016

The fund drive begins on October 17th and it may just be the most momentous of all time. That's because on November 8th, shortly after the fund drive is completed, Americans will be voting for President of the United States and a new Congress. This is arguably the biggest news item of the year and no one has covered this election more assiduously than WAMC. Not only have we interacted with you on Vox Pop every week but our first hour of Roundtable has become our most popular locally produced program. We have spent enormous amounts of time discussing what Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton have said and done. Probably never in American history has there been such a stark choice between the candidates for the presidency.

Not only are there major divergences in foreign and domestic policy but the American people are faced with having to choose who is better equipped, physically and mentally, to lead the country. WAMC has received a number of letters suggesting that we are spending too much time on the election, which some have likened to a contest between democratic values and pre-fascism. I have no apologies to make.

Among other things, the polling data has shown the stark contrast between white, middle class Americans, often without college educations, and those who have had the benefit of higher learning. As a college professor of over forty years, I think I get it. Concepts such as cultural diversity, the rights of minorities and protection of civil liberties are often, but not always, better understood by those who have studied American history and politics.

There are those such as panelist Barbara Smith who believe that this entire election revolves around race. She believes that the Trump candidacy is a thinly disguised campaign to keep blacks in their “proper place”. For his part, Trump says that he is the most non-racist person there is and that people of color have nothing to lose by electing him. So the Roundtable discussions have centered on evidence for both positions.

The point is that every time either candidate gives you a hint about which direction the country is going, you should know about the implications and a great radio station like WAMC will help. You've heard me say it a thousand times -- you can't have a democracy unless people can make intelligent choices. That's why when we get a letter from someone who says that they are sick and tired of hearing about Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, I become a little depressed and grumpy. We should not be a nation of ostriches with our heads in the sand. When someone releases information that is being withheld by the government, citizens should know. When this radio station reports on it, we are all better for it because we can make more informed decisions.

So, this will be a momentous election and WAMC will be there for you. Each day we will discuss what has happened. We recently hosted a congressional debate between John Faso and Zephyr Teachout, the two candidates who are contesting for the nineteenth Congressional seat in our area. This is one of the most closely contested elections in the country and media from all over the country joined us for the debate. Our news director, Ian Pickus, did a masterful job in planning and executing the debate and it went off without a hitch.

So here comes the ask. We couldn't do any of this without you. And while the voices may become shrill every once on a while, you know that the work we do here at is an essential ingredient in making our democracy better. So I suggest that you do what you can to keep it alive.