The Pirate's Presidential Primer

Now that the two major political parties in America have have wrapped up their dog-and-pony shows for their respective Presidential candidates, it’s time to start thinking about who to cast that ballot for.
While it’s almost a sure thing one of the Republicrats will win, there are more than two choices on your ballot – and every vote counts – so make sure to spend it on the candidate you truly believe in.
That being said, there are many single-issue voters in America; it’s why things like taxes, crime, education, abortion and the like tend to garner a lot of discussion during the campaign circus process.
I’m not exactly sure how many people would vote for someone based on their stance on the state of the media in this country, but it’s definitely something to consider. The president exercises an enormous amount of power over the regulation of the media – and that includes our access to it.
Remember, the president makes appointments to governmental agencies. This gives him the power to pick the Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission. Whoever sits in that chair for the next four years will hold much of our future in their hands.
This is a look at where the five major presidential candidates most likely to garner the majority of votes stand on LPFM – and a take on what their potential media policies might mean for the future of free radio.
It’s not hard to see where the votes will fall – but it’s still your vote to cast. Choose wisely.
george w bushGeorge W. Bush
Party: Republican
Age: 54
Home State: Texas
Current Occupation: Governor of Texas
Has raised $93,000,000 for presidential campaign
The Texas Governor and hand-picked Republican Party poster-child is so deep in the pockets of corporate America that, if you were that deep in your own pockets, you’d be considered a pervert. How else does one spontaneously generate a record-smashing political money machine?
Earlier this spring, one of the pro-LPFM lobbyists in Washington reportedly got an opportunity to talk with a top aide in the Bush campaign. However, there has been no news about whether the meeting actually took place, much less an idea on where Bush might stand on the issue.
Under a “Shrub” administration, current FCC Chairman William Kennard would be out of office in a heartbeat, probably replaced with someone more “marketplace-friendly” like Harold Furchtgott-Roth or Michael Powell. AT&T leads the way in total contributions to the GOP (more than $1.4 million invested in the election so far), from the telecommunications industry.
With the FCC such aligned, you could probably expect a “War on Drugs”-style campaign against unlicensed broadcasting. Of course, Bush himself would be completely oblivious to this because he would just read from the script presented to him by the National Association of Broadcasters and other media industry lobbyists, many of whom have already donated nearly a million dollars to his campaign.
al goreAl Gore
Party: Democrat
Age: 52
Home State: Tennessee
Current Occupation: Vice President
Has raised $52,000,000 for presidential campaign
While he’s trying to break his ties with President Clinton, as president he would inherit many of Clinton’s media policies and probably leave them in place. Gore has yet to make an on-the-record statement about LPFM specifically but it’s a safe bet that the status quo would reign.
More importantly, the apocalyptic Telecommunications Act of 1996 was Al Gore’s baby more than it was Clinton’s bright idea.
This means malaise. Saddled with a nearly-useless legal form of low power radio, the federal government would continue its backhanded crackdown on microbroadcasting.
There are puppets in the shadows here, too: Gore leads all candidates among raising funds from the media/entertainment industry, and with Viacom and Time Warner being two of Gore’s top six campaign contributors to-date, the radical reform necessary to return the airwaves to their rightful owners won’t come.
First Ladies don’t usually factor into an election, but in Gore’s case, it should. Tipper Gore’s been through a great “media makeover” during the last decade but she’s got censorship skeletons she can’t shake. As founder of the Parents’ Music Resource Center in the 1980s, Tipper’s responsible for the crusade that brought us “parental advisory” stickers on music sold in stores.
Finally, when Al was just a Senator, he had a curious exchange with Twisted Sister’s Dee Snider during a committee hearing into the debauchery of popular music. No, my friends, Al Gore’s no friend of free speech.
ralph naderRalph Nader
Party: Green
Age: 66
Home State: Connecticut
Current Occupation: Consumer advocate, author, attorney
Has raised $945,000 for presidential campaign
He certainly seems promising: Ralph Nader has devoted his whole life to fighting for the public interest in government policy.
He’s also the only candidate to actually speak about media policy in his campaign platform, and is wholeheartedly behind low power radio. The inside-the-Beltway organization Nader founded, Consumer Alert, filed comments in the FCC’s LPFM rulemaking supporting the new service.
As the first-ever presidential candidate to run a political ad designed as a spoof of a real commercial, Nader’s heart is definitely in the right place. He’s the anti-politician; the Green label probably isn’t making him any friends on Wall Street, either.
Ralph Nader as the unique combination of being intelligent and honest. It’s precisely why the Bush and Gore camps are fighting like mad to keep Nader out of the presidential debates.
Legendary DJ Casey Kasem has donated $2,000 to the Nader campaign, putting a bit of his Clear Channel paycheck to some good use.
pat buchananPat Buchanan
Party: Reform
Age: 62
Home State: Washington, D.C.
Current Occupation: TV pundit, columnist
Has raised $15,000,000 for presidential campaign
He finally wore out his welcome with the Republicans and hijacked the Reform Party this year to keep his mug in the running. Buchanan represents a hard-core fringe vote – one he’ll consistently get, but since it’s by definition a fringe vote, it’ll never be a majority.
Pat’s the extreme conservative; while he professes a “populist” agenda he sounds more like a dictator in disguise. He’s smart enough to hook voters with his rhetoric but also smart enough not to fully believe in his own line.
I’m not sure why he tries to cultivate the image of a political “outsider,” either: Buchanan was born in Washington, D.C. and was one of President Richard Nixon’s senior advisers up until Nixon was forced to resign for abusing his power.
He is a strong advocate of state’s rights, though, and it’s plausible a Buchanan administration would try do transfer regulation of radio to the states (something some “patriot pirates” have strongly advocated).
Then again, Buchanan’s idea of “good radio” is probably Rush Limbaugh – or worse. ‘Nuff said: no thanks.
harry browneHarry Browne
Party: Libertarian
Age: 67
Home State: New York
Current Occupation: Investment advisor, author
Has raised $1,000,000 for presidential campaign
This is the second time Brown has been the Libertarian candidate for president. The problem is, Libertarians always seem to languish in obscurity because they will not compromise outside their strict free-market liturgy. However, it is kind of sad to say that putting the Constitution first is a radical thought nowadays.
A firm belief in the founding documents of our country, though, does mean a spirited defense of the Bill of Rights.
It’s conceivable that such an anti-government stance might lead to no regulation of radio at all – and that might truly mean chaos on the dial, which ultimately serves nobody. Browne himself hasn’t made any specific statement with regard to LPFM.
Microsoft is one of Browne’s top campaign contributors, which does make some sense in its own convoluted way.