Friday, August 29, 2008

Watching You Watching

The Nielsen ratings are in on the Democratic National Convention, and the news is good for CNN, FoxNews, and MSNBC. According to TVbytheNumbers, "the ratings for the first night of the 2008 Democratic Convention were substantially higher than the first night in 2004, with prime-time viewership up as much as 88% and adults 25-54 viewership up as much as 127%." The increase in viewership carried over into the second, third, and fourth nights as well. It's an impressive testament to the drawing power of the 2008 election, and how excited Americans, particularly younger Americans, seem at the prospect of an Obama presidency. Or at least how excited Obama supporters are.

The Common Man suspects that next week's Republican National Convention in St. Paul will see a significant drop in ratings, as the star power associated with John McCain simply cannot compare to Barak Obama and the Clintons. And that's a shame. Frankly, The Common Man is bothered that, at the most, just 27.7 million Americans tuned in to the convention last night, especially when 40 million tuned in to watch Michael Phelps. And is disappointed that fewer still will see McCain's closing speech next Thursday. Even this sudden spike in interest only underlines the American public's commitment to style over substance, to the ten-second soundbite and 30-second analysis to actually listening to the candidates. This has become the very essence of the American Dewmocracy. That Americans don't have the attention span to commit to hearing the whole, they want someone to tell them what is important so they can go back to snowboarding or skateboarding or wakeboarding or whatever kind of boarding is extreme this week, instead of being forced to parse through and process a candidate's message for themselves.

Look, The Common Man knows that no one likes to be scolded or told what they should do. He hates it himself. But if you can't be bothered to at least take an hour this week and next to listen to both Obama and McCain's speech and decide for yourself who you trust and who will serve America's interests best, then you don't deserve to call yourself a man. If you are going to allow Alan Colmes, or Sean Hannity, or Chris Matthews to filter information for you, so that you are being told what to think, rather than taking control of your own opinions and your own vote, and making up your own damn mind, you may as well just give your vote back.

Not everyone cares about politics, and that's fine. But you don't have to check out twice a day, and read the Drudge Report, and skim Daily Kos every day to to understand that this election will probably have real consequences in how you get to live your life for the next four (and maybe eight) years. If you can't be bothered to care a little about that, then how is it possible that you care enough to get up each morning? If you have no interest in influencing the world around you, what's the point of doing anything? If you can't tell that deciding who to vote for will be more important to you than watching a man, half-way around the world, swim of all things, what does that say about your priorities?

So The Common Man encourages all of you, even those (like himself) who are inclined to support Barak Obama, to watch the Republican National Convention next week, or at least John McCain's acceptance speech on Thursday night. And if you missed Obama's speech last night, you can find it on his website and watch it at your convenience. Take some ownership over your decision-making, step up, and be a man.

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