Campus News

Our Political Process has been Corrupted and Few are Excited about the Presidential Candidates

Story posted September 22, 2000

"It’s not often that we get the chance to enter into conversation with someone who has changed the face of world history," so began sociology professor, and Common Hour MC, Kirk Johnson when he introduced journalist Carl Bernstein before he gave a wide ranging talk about politics and the presidential election to students, faculty and staff.

Bernstein continued on themes he brought up in a Thursday evening speech to the public: his view that journalism and politics in America are broken. He referred to the "wholesale corruption of the political system" and media who were unable to recognize and report on stories that are shaping the face of America and are in fact staring reporters in their faces. The corruption of the political system (largely due to money) and race in America are two issues dominating our culture, yet largely ignored by the media, he said.

The tendency to "back away" from important and obvious stories, Bernstein said, is contributing to the media’s loss of credibility and also affecting politics.

Just as the media failed to recognize the leadership of Ronald Reagan and the impact he would have on our nation and on the world, Bernsteind said, the media also underestimates the way in which Bill Clinton has changed politics.

"His accomplishments
are going to be recognized, I think, to an extent that they’re not today," he said.

The Clinton administration has re-energized the Democratic party, moved it to the center, and made it a viable force, he said. Clinton has also shown himself to be adept at getting around obstructions in efforts to promote his policies. Though several of his programs have been blocked by Congress, he has been able to pass small pieces of legislation that accomplished the same goals the programs would have, had they been passed.

The example, Bernstein gave, was Clinton’s goal to ensure that any child who wanted to would be able to go to College. Though a large initiative failed, Cinton has been able to institute loans programs and tax credits so that today, virtually any student can attend college.

This ability to "walk around" them is one of the reasons Clinton "makes Republicans crazy," Bernstein said. So strong is Clinton’s influence, that Bernstein believes he could be a dominant factor in the election.

Bernstein finds evidence of a corruption in the political process in the fact that we have two presidential candidates that much of the population is not excited about.

"How did
a population of 270 million get two candidates that most people wouldn’t put on a list of the top 10?" he asked. "It doesn’t speak well as to how our political system is functioning.

Because of a lack of enthusiasm for the main candidate, Bernstein said, this could be a year in which the presidential election is determined by the vice presidential candidates: Cheney has hindered Bush’s campaign, while Lieberman has energized Gore’s.

Despite this fact, Bernstein thinks the race is too close to call.

Carl Bernstein has been writing and reporting from the front lines on most
of the biggest stories and themes of the last thirty years. In the early 1970s, Bernstein set the standard for modern investigative reporting and broke the Watergate story, coverage of which earned a Pulitzer Prize for The Washington Post.

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