Baltar Elected! Settlement on New Caprica Begins Immediately!

One thing we know virtually nothing about in Trek is Federation politics and its relationship to the media.

Given the recent election cycle in the United States, one cannot help but be struck by the so-called "mainstream media" and its effects. The primary news services in this democracy are strongly leftist and admit being so (e.g., Ted Turner regarding CNN, et al.), in keeping with what seems to be an international state of affairs (i.e. the BBC). Further, although there is now a lone major news network that is further to the right, the overwhelming majority in print and television means that the issues get framed by them, limiting the minority channel's capacity to focus on stories the leftist media chooses to ignore. And there is no significant centrist media.

While the leftist media has colored a wide variety of issues and selected an amusingly leftist-helpful array of stories to focus on in the run-up to the recent election, perhaps no better evidence for the point can be found than in regards to economics. By all indicators the United States economy is doing extremely well, breaking records in some cases and posting the best numbers in decades in other areas, but the leftist party and the media have continually argued that the economy is in shambles, troubled, and so on, a reality-bending which seems to have successfully made its way into popular perception. With the strong gains by the leftist party (due in part, entertainingly, to numerous centrist candidates), though, the international markets have suffered a bit of a tumble, recognizing that the strong U.S. economy will probably now fall prey to leftist damage. But I digress . . .

Chances are extremely good that the Federation is strongly leftist. While the communism claim folks make about it is a load of hooey for reasons to be elucidated in a future article, the fact is that folks who are separated from the realities of production . . . i.e. people who view food as magically appearing from McDonald's instead of recognizing the farmers and all the steps to get it to the restaurants . . . almost invariably break left. Similarly, urban areas break left in modern times, for similar reasons. In an age of replicators this effect could only worsen.

In the modern era, leftists have (as a rule of thumb) been weak on defense. Of course this isn't necessarily so everywhere . . . witness Soviet Russia . . . but overall the point holds. The inherent lack of understanding of objective issues like food production generally extends to other spheres, so that obvious threats are appeased and the spilling of blood for any reason is unpalatable.

(Trek's writers seem to grasp this if even on a subconscious level. Most of the best Starfleet officers are seen as coming from right-leaning backgrounds . . . Picard's family worked the land and rejected replicators, Kirk spent time on a farm in Iowa (and also witnessed evil early in life), O'Brien's family rejected replicators, and Sisko's father ran a restaurant and had some views best described as libertarian.)

But, alas, there are too many unknowns in regards to the Federation political sphere. As far as we know, they might've followed George Washington's suggestion to avoid political parties altogether. And although we've seen press in the Federation before (in ST6 most notably), there's no way to know its leanings.

Some have claimed, though, that the Federation News Service seen in ST6 is evidence of a state-controlled media. Of course, that's no more likely than the American Broadcasting Company being state-controlled (it isn't). However, I can't necessarily say that a free media with a state-controlled popular media outlet also in existence would be a bad thing.

But Trek is about optimism, so perhaps the best idea is that parties don't exist in the 24th Century, and that the media of that era is not one attempting to serve certain interests, but instead just tries to report the facts and not shape them.


Anonymous said...

The ultimate expression of american style democracy is Federation hippiness. It won't reach Culture level because of the drug thing, but yeah.

Look at the history of the US. The "wild west" became more and more tame and the tamer sections of the country became "tamer". One section of it is what's legal and acceptable force against criminals, even if some go beyond that. It gets lessened and lessened more and more, as time goes by. Janeway said that the Federation of Kirk's time is far different from her Federation and that the things he got away with wouldn't be accepted in her time because of the more wild west feeling of the era.

Now, look at Northern Virginia. It is becoming more and more blue, while the south of Virginia is still pretty much red, but the blue section is getting bigger and bigger and blue states are becoming more and more blue.

Many of the values of good journalism are shared with democratic or leftist views, where authority is questioned and such. There's been a constant pounding away by republicans about how great the economy is, basing it on a more trickle down economic way to run an economy. The problem is that trickle down takes too damn long for overall progress in a country the size of the US. There wouldn't have been a better chance of it working when the colonies were still up. But, I found there wasn't as much an explanation in the news media I saw of why there was the hour glass shape to the economy amongst the rich, middle class and poor. How people were either going up or down, but couldn't stay middle class, where many people are loosing their jobs and benefits. It's just a brief thing before you've got someone saying how great the economy is doing, but always shying away from the fact that most people are getting the shaft.

I've viewed the Federation primarily as a giant blue state with some sections more conservative than other, but still blue.

Anonymous said...

American economy is doing poor, because:
1. American middle class evaporates
2. America is going deeper and deeper in debt, building a huge "financial pyramid" THIS is a way to a collapse... and USA are going there fast.

Anonymous said...


I would be interested in sources backing up your claims.

Another Anonymous

Anonymous said...

To another anon, 2 questions:

How much does the war(on Iraq, terror, drugs, immigrants,... whatever)cost a year?

Where do you think that money comes from?

Yours truly,

Anonymous said...


If you're sort-of asserting that I have a political ideology right-of-center, then I have a question for you: What makes you believe (if I interpreted your message right) that requesting information to back up data makes me right-of-center? Again, if you have information to back up accusations, I would appreciate it, as one who would want to learn more about politics from both sides of the isle. In this case, if people have claims about how good or bad the economy is doing, I'd appreciate the information.

Another Anonymous

Anonymous said...

Oh, if anyone is interested, the numbers for the media are extremely left. More than 90% of reporters have been surveyed admit to being Democrat and over 75% of them admit to being liberal.

This is not surprising, since journalism and the democratic party share many of the same ideals.

Anonymous said...

I would be interested in sources backing up your claims.

CIA World Factbook:https://www.cia.gov/cia/publications/factbook/geos/us.html#Econ

"Since 1975, practically all the gains in household income have gone to the top 20% of households. ... Deficit: 300-ish billion; Public Debt: 0.647 GDP."

Anonymous said...

It may be of some interest here that from a European (i.e. external) point of view the USA has two main political streams:

Right and slightly less right.

Democrats would never ever be seen as anything even resembling 'left' over where I live. At best they'd be seen as 'largely right with some minor centric focus'. Republicans would be seen as 'largely right'.

In essence most people I know wonder why there is so much polarization in the USA because the differences between the Democrats and Republicans seem to be very minor indeed.

Just my 2 cents and not meant as criticism, just observation.

Anonymous said...

There are those that just want to bash the other guy by twisting what he does and says and there are those that dumb enough to believe the made up stuff.

Then, where do you live anyway?

Anonymous said...

Damn, son, I wouldn't want to live where you do then. My guess, Netherlands?


And life here is good. Very good even.

The problem with defining what is centrist vs. liberal vs. conservative is usually taken out of context. People seem to think we need to "grade on the curve" when it comes to these things, that if a majority of people in a certain region are liberal, then that is considered the moderate (or centrist) view and everything to the right of that would be conservative. In reality, it would be centrist. Politics don't scale depending on your view. Liberal is liberal, conservative is conservative regardless of the curve.

No, the problem is that I used different definitions of the term.

(European politics identify four rather than two axis: Left-wing, Liberal, Conservative and Right-wing.

I.E. left-wing and liberal are not the same thing - you have conservative left and liberal right parties as well as the more traditional liberal left and conservative right ones)

In other words, Democrats are still left. You are just much further left than they are in your country.

There are degrees in everything. Democratic policy in the last few times they 'held the reigns' was decidedly centric.

You've never listened to Senator John McCain from Arizona or former new York Mayor Rudy Giuliani speak then? Very liberal for Republicans. They are not even centrists. Toss in former Senator Lincoln Chaffee or Arlen Spector for that matter.

Recently, there seems to be some push towards the moderate/centrist view by some Republicans. Being pro-abortion, anti-2nd Amendment, anti-1st Amendement, etc.

I'm not fully up to date on senators of the US speaking, they -being of little direct importance where I live as they deal mostly with US internal affairs- tend not to get much 'airtime'.

I'll take your word for it tho, it's only natural that a large political party gets 'wings' eventually. I'd have been more surprised if there wouldn't have been differences like that.

here: http://dontgetstuck.blogspot.com

read thru it, it will explain the differences. Republicans pretty much want to keep the Constitution intact. Democrats want to change the U.S. into Europe.

That blog appears to be 'rather biased' to me. It also appears to love overreacting, making elephants out of mosquitoes.

In other words, this does not show me the real differences at all.

Sorry, but anything outside of Great Britain makes me shudder...

Which is funny because Great Britain is a lot more left wing than most nations in the EU.

As an example, they have the NHS (full goverment payed health service). No other European country has healthcare which is anywhere near as 'socialist' as that.

Oh and just a hint, you can actually debate with a person without insulting his country/region of habitat (albeit in a veiled way). Perhaps you should try it, if I can manage, surely you can as well!

Author said...

I generally fall under what would be referred to here as Libertarian, but I have to say that public healthcare makes a lot of sense to me on a gut level, even though it's commonly considered a liberal position. I'm not talking about a free-for-all where Botox is covered, of course, but it seems to me that the basic healthcare needs of workers should be met, even in a capitalist society. Illness and misery are a drain on the economy and on individuals who suffer ... investing in the health of the workforce just doesn't feel wrong with that in mind.

I haven't researched the issue or anything so I might be missing something, but on a gut level it works for me.

Anonymous said...

No. The problem is that you said Democrats are centrists and in fact they are not. You attempted to skew the center. I live here, you do not. I know that the Democrats are not centered nor are their policies.


Uh, no. And that is what I am trying to explain. You may see them as centric based on YOUR vantage point, ie, they are to the right of you. But in reality, you are just so far left, everything looks right. Hence, you are skewing the center. Democrats (at least those in control of the party) are very left. Maybe not as far left as some of their insane constituents, but left none the less.

From wikipedia:

"This traditional political spectrum has come to be defined along an axis with socialism and communism, ("the Left") on one end, and nationalism and Fascism ("the Right") on the other. Free market liberalism is generally considered to be center-right; new liberalism or social liberalism is generally assigned to the center, center-left or sometimes (when viewed by conservatives) the left. Christian Democracy may be anywhere from center-right to center-left, depending on the country and era."

According to the same wikipedia the Democratic party is "Center-left" and follows "social liberalism". Meaning they are a center to center-left party and not an overt left one. The page on the democratic party even goes further on that:

"Since the 1990s and the shift towards the political strategy of triangulation employed by Democratic President Bill Clinton, the Democratic Party has become less ideologically uniform and more centrist in the American political spectrum as it attempts to expand its appeal to Republican electorates."

Which means I was wrong. They are centrist with a touch of left.

Care to explain specifically how it's biased? For example, when I showed that the media changed the context of vice president Dick Cheney's comments about John Kerry to make it look like it would be a "disaster" for America - then I found the correct quote and put it back into context, to you that looks biased?

"The left hates the military. Possibly for no other reason than because it is an organization that provides structure and order. These things are poison to liberals. Britt and Despair are no exception to this rule."

That is biased. And not a bit too. And it's only the first paragraph!

Your other link starts with this bit

"Recently my boss described me as a "right-wring wackjob" because I am a vocal conservative and very supportive of George W. Bush. Don't get me wrong, he's not perfect. I can name a dozen things that can be improved upon. But that is better than the thousands of things I'd be mentioning if Kerry actually won the election. And Bill, the cigar is for smoking, get it right."

Which, again, is very biased.

Not that it's a problem to be biased or to have a favorite side in an argument, but if you're trying to get an outsider like me to see the difference something like wikipedia would be a far better place to start than a political -and hence biased- blog.

Your media is state-controlled, isn't it?
No it isn't. Not even close.

I wonder where you even got that idea, freedom of the press (and speech too for that matter) is a constitutional right in The Netherlands.

Compared to France or Belgium I think not.

The differences are a lot smaller than you think. I've seen and been in all three of those countries. And they're mostly similar in policy, law and how stuff works. Well, apart from language naturally.

Whereas France has three weeks of state-paid vacation (holiday).

Which is compared to the UK's 20 days of mandatory vacation of course.

There was no insult. I simply stated that it was my personal preference not to live where you do. Unless you believe you have some sort of right that I cannot express my personal opinion on where I would like to live or not.

Well, I stand corrected then. I do want to add that -as far as I can see- the differences in how people live here or in the states are overestimated to say the least.

I really wonder how you think life works over here.

I don't know about how your laws work, but the right not to be offended does not exist in our Constitution. Although the more liberal of our citzenery here do attempt to write such "hate-crime" legislation. But, you get my point...

Freedom of speech is a constitutional right in The Netherlands. As is freedom of the press.

A freedom which, in a delightful fit of irony when it comes to this discussion, is defended most fiercely by left-of-center parties over here.

Listen, I am not trying to start a fight here in any way shape or form. I am simply trying to point out that just because you see the Democrats as right to you does not mean they are centered. It's like I tell my boss, I am not some right-wing wacko, you are just so far left you can't see the center.

The only unbiased source I found so far placed the Democratic Party at the center or (at worst/best -depending on your viewpoint-) center-left. The same source places the Republican Party at the center-right.

And I wasn't trying to get a fight started, I was just a bit curious where the polarization of US politics had it's source.

Because, frankly, after reading the Wikipedia entries I'm still not convinced the Republicans and Democrats are that distant from each other on the spectrum.

Oh, and if anyone is curious, I am a centrist and I have the test results to prove it:


I did some of those tests. I came quite close to the center, albeit slightly to the left side. Less so than you scored right of center tho :P

(In other words, no I am not nearly as left as you think I am, I'm more of a centrist)

Anonymous said...


The problem is, as 'we Europeans' can vouch for that it's really, really expensive to do that.

Even for a small country like The Netherlands the cost to make basic healthcare available below-cost-price is running into the billions* yearly.

And we do pay a significant portion of those costs via insurance as well.

In other words, each system has it's benefits and downsides :)

*) Thousands of millions. Just to be sure because the term billion is different in the different forms of english and I tend to forget which one goes where :)

Author said...

I found the same test by googling the text of the result Chicken Sock Puppet mentioned. There's also another test that's been linked to with similar questions and a similar spectrum. Both put me just ever so slightly left of center . . . the result on that same test had me as centrist but on the opposite side of the center circle from Chicken Sock Puppet.

Frankly, though, I don't really think that's an accurate result. For one thing, it had me more left than John Kerry's picture, which is dead wrong. I'm guessing a few issues might seem to throw me leftward on such tests (church-state separation, etc.), and I'd imagine that my mostly-Libertarian views just confuse that sort of test anyway.

However, I did enjoy the fact that it showed Kerry as being more toward the center . . . in recent years Democrats have tended to run candidates who do not represent the full Democrat ideology. This was quite apparent in the recent mid-term elections, where many of the Democrat candidates were actually conservatives. It was rather slick of them, since it put the more leftist party leaders in charge. Time will tell if this ploy works out for them. (Both of you guys noted this . . . Chicken similar to the above, and the Wiki article says it more diplomatically.)

As for the left-vs.-right spectrum in American politics, I would like to point out that there is still a lingering effect of the Cold War in which certain ideologies still represent "the Other" to us. Whereas one of the strongest EU groups is the PES (Party of European Socialists), featuring a number of luminaries in European politics, no politician here would dare associate himself with the term publicly . . . socialism and communism get lumped together for the most part, and we still have a bit of a knee-jerk reaction to pinko commies. ;)

So while economics may seem to have our spectrum to the right, on social issues the American leftists are, I think, every bit as left as other leftists in the world. There is a note of pragmatism to our leftists . . . they want to transform us into Europe but those pesky conservatives and libertarians are in the way and must be slowly guided to the light by hook or by crook . . . but the basic ideology is about the same.

In any case, though, right now the American leftists feel they're back in the game after years of being shut out and marginalized. I'm frankly rather alarmed to see what they do in this delicate time. Ideas like handing Iraq to the Iranians and Syrians do not exactly fill me with hope, since I know it isn't just a clever ploy to make the two distracted by expending their more limited resources on the place.

Anonymous said...

The most interesting thing, for me, so far in the discussion was the 'accusation' that Europe is largely left or even overtly left.

The funny part is that this is just not true.

The EU parliament has a centrist-right majority (has had that for at least the last 8 years),

France has a right-wing government (for again, at least the last 8 years),

Belgium has a left-wing/christian democratic/right-wing coalition which led to centric policy (but politics in Belgium are volatile so this could change any minute),

The Netherlands currently have a Centre-Right coalition (and have had centric to centric-right politics for at least 12 years now), etc.

Germany and the UK where the major EU countries with the overt left/centric-left governments in the past years and they too have seen the move to a centric (Germany) or centric-right (UK, not yet but everybody knows conservatives will win the next elections) one.

Perhaps the problem here is that European leaders usually have far less power (and prestige) in their country than the President of the USA has in his country. That probably leads to the wrong conclusion that the EU nations follow the leaders colour completely.

A good example was the left-wing Prime Minister of The Netherlands during the 'purple years' (1998-2002). It may have seemed that the country was left-coloured at that time, but the coalition in government actually was centric because the left-wing and right-wing party where in the same government and each had quite a bit of influence on policy.

Anonymous said...

I know you said you wouldn't post any more on the matter, but I feel I should at least respond to a couple of bits:

Okay first of all, you are using the Wikipedia. Not exactly the most accurate source of information on the planet. You must realize that it, like all other sources regarding politics, is going to be biased. Remember? ;)

And again, they, like you, skew the center.

Wikipedia, unlike most websites, but like other encyclopedia's is based on the NPOV principle - i.e. the idea is the data on the site is written from a neutral point of view. If it isn't, it normally gets fixed.

Now their articles may not always be fully true, but their articles on other political parties are pretty much spot on. I see no reason to assume the article on the democratic party is wrong.

So no, I don't think they skew the center. I think you are tho (remember, I come from a many-party system and we get it all, from nearly communist parties (always fun when they try to get votes and always fail) to extremely right-wing parties that believe women should not be allowed to vote at all and all the other usual extreme right points of view). And you've not given me any reason to believe otherwise.

No, that is not bias because I go into detail and use facts to back it up

Bzzzt! You are wrong. Proving someone wrong can be done as a matter of fact or with bias. Aside from wether or not you actually proved them wrong, you didn't just "prove them wrong", you felt the need to exaggerate how wrong they are and insult your opponents at the same time. That is biased information.

It's one thing to say "The Democratic party is in favor of reducing military spending. I disagree with their reasons for wanting that and here's why" and quite another to say "The left hates the military, probably because it promotes structure and order, which they find poison".

The first one is (relatively) non-biased information, the other is biased drivel. And no, that has nothing to do with being politically correct or calling a spade a spade. You are exaggerating the left point of view and then pound away based on the exaggerated position.

oh basically I think most of Europe these days wouldn't stand up for itself if the Muslim hoard of Islamo-fascist jihadist came running across the borders. I am actually witnessing that now with what happened with France being lit afire and the massive movements of Muslim demostrations in much of Western Europe.

You are, of course, wrong. European countries are quite willing to get their hands dirty (Witness even small countries like my own being in Irak and now Afghanistan). They just have less of an ability to project their armed forces abroad. Nor do I know anyone who would just sit idly if an invading force showed up. Nationalism is not a USA only trait.

As to the 'french blaze', you are mistaken about the core cause of those issues. It had surprisingly little to do with religion and all to do with money.

And Muslim demonstrations all over Europe? I don't know where you get that bit of information, but errr it's dead wrong.

As guarenteed by whom? The government? Here is what can separate left from right: a leftist believes rights are granted by the government. A right-winger believes rights are granted by God, because what government giveth, government can taketh away - but no man can speak for God.

Basic legal principle: Rights are guaranteed by the government/judicial system*. This goes for your country as well and you know it.

*) They decide to change the rules? You either adopt the new ones or fight them. This is true everywhere.

And no, being right-wing does not mean believing God gives you your rights. One doesn't have to be religious to be right-wing, or atheist to be left-wing.

You are correct, if you ignore their stance on society and economics, then they are identical. Let me summerize (etc)

Your list misses a key point:

The truth lies in the middle, left-wing and right-wing are both non-optimal solutions to 'keeping society working', so some social funding works better than an awful lot or none at all, and somewhat encouraging of business works better than an awful lot, or none at all, etc.

The abortion/gun issues are hard to tackle because they are mostly based on how persons feel about that individually. Both parties are somewhat wrong and somewhat right here. There are advantages to allowing people to bear arms, but there are disadvantages as well (and vice versa for gun control). Same for Abortion.

However, those debates quickly get emotional and non-rational so it's a tricky business.

To close off...

The reason why I'm so skeptical about massive differences between Republicans and Democrats can be best summed up like this:

Both these parties are positively huge. It is widely known big political parties -actually all parties, but you see this far more in big ones- become winged. Their identity becomes, with increasing size, blurred as they start catering to ever increasing amounts of voters. You get true left-wing Republicans, true right-wing Democrats, and all in between.

This leads to smaller differences between parties over time because they all want to get as many voters as possible and (here's the kicker) most voters are decidedly centric in their viewpoints.

Hence true left-wing parties are either doomed to having a small constituency or adapting and growing to the center and true right-wing parties are likewise challenged and changed.

And thanks for the debate. It's nice to debate political issues without getting the usual brain dead insanity that most people tend to get when you try to do that.

Anonymous said...

If only we had listened to George Washington when he warned against political factions (granted, he was part of one of the early factions, himself...). In Pennsylvania, we recently had to choose between two Senate candidates who were almost exactly the same (Santorum and Casey). The democrats ran Casey because his father was the governor of Pennsylvania back in the day, and he's a social conservative. A social conservative running on name recognition vs. a social conservative incumbent. Infuriating. I'm not going to get into my personal beliefs, here, the problem is that there was no real choice in the matter from an actual issues standpoint. These guys had to try really hard to be different. When winning power for the party matters more than the issues themselves, we've got a problem. I cast my first Libertarian vote in that election.

Anonymous said...

That's why I voted for Casey. He may be more conservative than me, but there was just so much evidence Santorum was just a Bush bobblehead. I don't want my congressmen to be presidential bobbleheads, whether the president is a democrat or a republican. I even saw them debate, both on Meet the Press and not and Santorum just couldn't really debate the issues.

Anonymous said...

Oh, and by the way, someone compared Babylon 5's Inter Stellar News when under the control of the Earth Alliance president to FOX news, on YouTube.

As to the above, It seems to me that the Netherlander is left-of-centre, while the Democratic Party is slightly less so.