Robert Zullo of the Houma Courier (of Houma, Louisiana, in Terrebonne parish, near New Orleans) interviewed me on Thursday on the 2008 election. His article in today’s paper very nicely captures how voters are making decisions as they head towards the voting booth.
He kindly included a number of quotes from me in his piece, which I reckon I can reprint without trampling federal copyright law.
Local voters weigh in on their presidential picks
By Robert Zullo
Senior Staff Writer
Published: Sunday, October 12, 2008
James Bovard, a former journalist and Libertarian-minded author of “Attention Deficit Democracy” and other books on the state of American government and the U.S. electorate, said the 2008 campaign has been “a great year for cynics.”
Bovard said “sound bytes and slurs” exert too much influence on the electorate. “Folks have been satisfied with phrases instead of making the effort to understand the policy,” he added.
Part of the problem, Bovard said, is government has become much bigger, policies have become more complex and, at the same time, the average citizen has made little or any effort to keep up.
“This basically puts politicians on the honor system,” Bovard said, adding that distortions and falsehoods spread by campaigns are aided by news media that can be “cowardly” or just as ignorant as the voters they seek to inform. “It’s easier to get away with lies nowadays.”
…In the last eight years, much of which was dominated by the Republican party control of the executive and legislative branches, the GOP has “expanded government in so many ways,” Bovard said, pointing to farm subsidies and Republican complicity in the $700 billion Wall Street bailout.
“People have gotten vested in politicians and certain political parties and they are blind to the faults and blind to the lies,” Bovard said.
Voters and media also fail to fully investigate campaign issues, such as Barack Obama’s support for increasing ethanol production.
“This is a good example of an ultimate bogus issue,” he said. “It’s a very poor source of fuel, but it’s good for the farm lobby.”
Bovard also said he was mystified by the popular excitement generated by Obama and Palin in their respective parties.
“Something I find almost comical is that some of the Obama supporters seem to think the only thing that’s necessary in order to have a government that serves people is a new set of politicians in charge. Both parties are complicit in many of the abuses of the last eight years,” Bovard said.
Given her lack of experience, he was also amused by that “people have read so many positive qualities” into Palin, who was the mayor of small Alaskan town just two years ago.
“All of a sudden she’s a new Joan of Arc,” he said.
“First and foremost she’s a politician,” Bovard said, adding that to some extent the same phenomenon extends to Obama. “Folks somehow think these two people have somehow transcended the follies that are the bad traits of their class. … It’s almost as if people are desperate for a savior. I think that explains some of the reaction to Palin and also Obama.”