Not sure I have seen such polarization in national politics since the Vietnam War. Adding to that is the fact that more than ever the populace seems separated from politics and current events in its own electronically-driven world in which supposedly we now have more access to news and its background than ever before. But do we?
Not really. We have a lot of data but most of it is one-sided propaganda or short summaries leaving out necessary explanations and background. But few want to be bothered with the details anyway. Families for the most part are way too busy to be bothered by such stuff — if there is mom and dad, both, at home, they both work (or with such high unemployment maybe look for work). The kids have their activities, and so many people seem self-absorbed in texting each other and what ever else they do on those I-phones and tablets and so on. People actually sit at restaurant booths and don’t talk to each other but text on their phones. What they are texting I have no clue. I don’t text — I have a hard enough time typing in the conventional mode. But then again, I am usually by myself. And I do sometimes lug my laptop around and mess with it while I am waiting for my food.
And so many people do not keep up on current events. And for those who do, the trend now is to read only stuff that is targeted to your beliefs. The advertisers who fund all of this like it that way. It’s called reaching a certain demographic I think. They try to target certain segments of the national audience who might be interested in buying their particular product or service.
Purely objective journalism — well there may be no such thing, but there was an ideal — is pretty much passé. Some people feel that the old he said, she said, is not really all that informative. And I understand this. I mean I once was a journalist and I covered many a public meeting. One person says one thing and one person says another. Somewhere in there is the truth. But if you simply write what was said you are no better than a transcriptionist — you might as well have sent a shorthand reporter and submitted a long transcript to the readers and then they still would not make heads or tails of it unless they knew all the background that goes with it (and who would have time to read it all anyway?). But objective reporting and fair reporting can be done but it may seem dull and it might not fit into those demographics of the targeted audience.
Even public broadcasting seems to be slanted, and virtually always to the left of the political spectrum. And that is because it is done by thinking people with open minds — but that does not mean they are correct. They’re just seeing another point of view. Sometimes they seem to go overboard in always going against the status quo. Sometimes status quo is what works best.
Adding to all of this is the fact we seem to be living in an age where entertainment and self-gratification takes center stage, and that is not to say those two things have not always been sought after, it’s just that it seems more so now.
And still more confusion comes from the fact that the makeup of our American society is changing. We are so much more diverse now. We used to be a society based on white European values (good and bad), with others basically assimilating into that for the most part. And maybe they still do, but I see conflict.
Also, in my lifetime the sexual revolution has taken over and the norms of home life and everything have changed and in some strange way that has changed politics.
(Along with this we are a much more vulgar society. Child entertainment stars move into their teenagehood and then adulthood engaging in what used to be considered bad taste, but what today is just expected if one wants to remain in the game make more and more money.)
And back to the so-called information age. Now no one can do anything without it showing up on YouTube. I heard one politician say that he is afraid to talk to groups unless he sticks to prepared remarks, lest someone post a YouTube video showing him talking one way to one group and one way to another. I added that last part, but I think that is what he meant. And I think I understand it. I mean if you want to represent all of the people and all of the people don’t agree, you have to offer compromises to some but that may not sit well with others.
(Also, see link at end of post for more on the YouTube reality –nothing is private.)
So today we have a vast majority of the public uninterested and uninformed and even if they wanted to be it would be difficult due to the lack of objective sources of information or at least the confusion caused by the overabundance of sites on the computer purporting to offer facts. And let me stop here to explain why “objective” is so important. I mean if you were going to buy a car, wouldn’t you want the full run down on the thing — the pros and the cons with no spin? What good would it do just to read the dealer’s hype? My product is best!
Meanwhile, politics is polarized and many politicians care more about their jobs than statesmanship — read John Boehner seems to care more about retaining his speakership in congress than introducting a bill to end the government shutdown in the current blackmail by a minority of Tea Party Republicans who feel they have the right to rule the majority. (At last word, though, he supposedly has hinted he has something in the offing.)
And I am not saying that their opposition to Obamacare is without merit (although I have my doubts), but we have constitutional procedures and free elections to resolve those problems. Why they think they should bring the world’s only super power and the world’s last guardian of democracy (even though we have slipped at that at times by supporting dictators — but we had our reasons — good intentions) to its knees, unable to function, over opposition to one law, is beyond me. (And yes, I can see the argument that once something is entrenched it is hard to kill, but Obamacare is not that far along.)
I have heard that they are deathly afraid that Obamacare might catch on and really work — then what would they do?
And, if it is so bad, as they say, then surely that will be political gold for them in coming elections.
I also heard this: maybe pork barrel politics had its merits. Used to be when there seemed to be a standoff, one side would secretly offer to vote for the other side’s pork barrel project in order to clinch a deal. Harder to do in the information age.
The Keystone Pipleline? I’ve heard as much.
An unwelcome result, as far as political strategy goes, of information technology may be seen here (kind of like the opposing team having a bug planted inside your huddle) :