A little less than a week ago, it occurred to me that something was wrong. Something was wrong with the veneration of pundits best known for their failure to deduce anything correctly. Something was wrong with the media deciding who is a viable candidate and when an election is over. Something was wrong with voters being treated like afterthoughts whose participation was merely incidental. And consequent to these observations, it also occurred to me that there was something wrong with the fact that Ron Paul held the record for the most money raised in one day.
I concluded that one way to stuff the spin of the know-nothing punditocracy back down their arrogant throats was to demonstrate the narrowness of their vision. They needed to be knocked down a peg or two by circumstances over which they had no control. I knew that if the people stepped up to thumb their noses at the press, the press would have to pay attention. And since their noses were already so firmly planted in the back end of the horse race schema, a competition for cash was just the ticket. I thought that if Ron Paul could raise six million dollars in one day, John Edwards ought to be able to raise seven.
Despite his relative success and obvious contributions, John Edwards was being edited out of the electoral picture by a pack of myopic politicos. He had beaten Hillary Clinton in Iowa and finished in double digits in New Hampshire. The popularity of his platform was forcing his opponents to adjust their own positions to be more in line with his. With a base of support from progressive Democrats that went back to his campaign in 2004, Edwards had a realistic opportunity to compete in the upper tier of candidates. But the media wouldn’t let him. Edwards himself has taken note this orchestrated media blackout. They marginalized him; they disparaged him; they mocked him. And through it all, he continued to garner support and respect. So they had to resort to ignoring him.
The Project for Excellence in Journalism recently completed a study of the amount of time the media allotted to the presidential candidates. Edwards came in last amongst the Democrats, and next to last amongst all major candidates. The survey was conducted in the days following the Iowa primary in which he finished a surprise second. But that apparently wasn’t enough to persuade editors that Edwards deserved to be covered.
So I wrote a little diary that I posted at DailyKos proposing a grassroots effort to help Edwards set a new fundraising record. In all truth, it was more of an academic suggestion to ponder the possibilities of such an endeavor. Possibilities, being what they are, exceeded my wildest expectations.
The proposal picked up steam at DailyKos getting elevated to its “Recommended List.” This was followed by a steady stream of follow-up diaries by other authors acting on their own initiative. Then it began to spread to other blogs. At the Democratic Underground I found multiple instances of the proposal. Some added creative touches to expand on the theme. One member pledged to donate an amount equal to the number of recommendations the posting received (it was over 300 last I checked). I saw postings on the Edwards Blog site. I saw comments at various news sites, including one at Fox News.
I have no idea what will happen today. I have no clue how much the campaign will raise. If they break the record the media will have to take notice. But no matter the final tally, this has been an exhilarating experience. I have had so many well wishers and expressions of support. Literally hundreds of blog commenters pledged to contribute. And that is only those in the small bloggerhood in which I reside.
People are also becoming more aware of the toxic influence of a media that seeks to shape the news rather than report it. When Edwards talks about the harm being done to our country by greedy corporations he knows that chief amongst the members of that club are the giant media conglomerates. So regardless of how this unfolds, we must continue to fight for reform. Because if we don’t succeed in reining in the power of these monopolies they will forever dictate to us how we should feel, what we should buy, who we should hate, and what our choices are in our formerly free democracy.