CBS strike affects presidential debates

By now, we can probably all agree the Writers Guild of America strike requires no fancy introductions or delving into specifics. It has thoroughly succeeded in saturating the news and now it has begun to affect life outside TV Land. On Thursday CBS was forced to cancel a Los Angeles Democratic presidential debate that it had slated to air on Dec. 10 because several big ballers decided to make a point and not cross the network’s picket line. The Democratic National Committee said it’s not planning to reschedule.

While on the surface this passive action may seem quite principled and effect the idea that these candidates are on the side of the workers, more sinister motives may be at work here and deserve some evaluation, though they are admittedly 100 percent speculation on the part of your humble columnist.

Keeping in mind that actions speak louder than words, the possible covert actions taking place aren’t making much noise. The absent candidates could be allowing the strike to serve as opportunity to distract the masses from more important issues. When candidates are not talking, we could be missing something. They don’t necessarily have any allegiance to the guild, so if they wanted to, they could walk through the lines and use the time they’re being given to address the issues that they are now effectively choosing to ignore.

Regardless of what people feel about this action, it almost seems out of character for those who would generally assume the position atop a soapbox any time, any place. Despite the fact that the serious voting public probably has a good idea about the personalities and platforms of these candidates, by skipping this engagement, we can’t help but feel that their real, unabridged opinions on this and similar matters will go unheard and un-critiqued. Something revealing, perhaps by a less popular candidate, could have come out of this debate. In short, voters deserve to be exposed to the people who might one day run our country as much as possible and there is no real reason to deny them this.

And if this action is merely an attempt to save face after an intense and divisive Republican debate on Wednesday, that is even more of a letdown. Difference is good; embrace it. America is not looking for a homogenous pool from which to select its next leader. The Reps brought issues to light and abandoned the cue cards and the sound bytes and really talked. While the candidates got personal, at least we now know we’re not dealing with clones. That’s comforting, in a way.

In effect, they are striking themselves by this apparent support of the people’s right to strike – and challenge oppression from any angle, for that matter. However, this could be an indication of how they plan to approach crises that may arise during their terms. While there may be something to be said for passivity in general, viewers and voters must now evaluate for themselves whether this is a trait they would admire in their president. And it’s not necessarily an easy decision to make.

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