May 4, 2009
A Wind Blows Against The Political SpectrumBy Lee Cary
Those who plot people and issues along the political spectrum of left, right, and in-between may be late to perceive a new wind blowing from outside their perspective.
It blows invisibly, this wind. We can't see it, only what it occasionally stirs up. It's gaining velocity across the nation. When it blows hard enough, it will move The Spectrum.
Big media plots politics and politicians along The Spectrum. That's all they know. It's how they think. How they entertain. Sell ads. In their delivery, they imitate the characters of courtroom theater. Prosecution v Defense leads to Jury decision. Mostly, they play one role or the other, prosecutor or defense attorney, depending on how they feel about the politician or the issue.
Politicians, on the other hand, are scripted to argue opposite sides, rail at each other, then tootle off arm-in-arm to dine. Their verbal sparing represents their respective clients. No hard feelings. A day later they can deliver unctuous introductions for each other.
Ideologues flourish in the big media, particularly liberal ones. Once, they were somewhat circumspect about revealing their hard feelings under the guise of hard news. Now, their adversarial behaviors are scripted elements of news as entertainment, or vise versa.
A laughing Anderson Cooper makes a disparaging, double entendre comment ("tea bagging") about citizens at the Tea Parties. A CNN no-name reporter argues condescendingly with a Tea Party man holding his child because he doesn't, she says, understand the tax break he's getting. Almost imperceptibly, the wind picks up speed.
ABC News says that Peter Schiff and others who, from "way outside the economic mainstream," make dire economic predictions are dealing in "pessimism porn." "Why would anybody actually read pessimism porn?" the ABC commentator asks.
Why would he even ask that question? Because what he calls "pessimism porn" doesn't fall within his definition of "mainstream." His name is Legion, for there are many like him.
In the big media, everything is politicized. Economics, education, business, sport, art, music, energy, sex, birth, parenting, religion, food, health, weather. They're all pre-plotted along the standard frame of reference for all of life: The Spectrum.
So from FOX we get the signature format of battling talking-heads shouting at each other, a fair and balanced format populated by the fairly unbalanced.
On CBS we watch groupthink panel discussions -- live chat rooms for the commonly persuaded. The most popular transition from one expert to another is "Yes, and furthermore..."
MSNBC offer us a steady diet of vitriolic sarcasm dished out by acidic critics.
None know it, but collectively they're chipping away at The Spectrum. I say, chip away.
For many, big business was once a counter balance to The Spectrum. Business executives were the Captains of Industry. Steely-eyed capitalists who focused on profit. When their behavior got out of line, government regulators reeled them in. True or not, that's what many thought. Not any more.
According to a recent Rasmussen poll:
In the public game show version of "Who Do You Trust," increasingly the chosen answer is: D. None of the above.
Too many Captains of Industry have become political Lieutenants. Take General Electric's Jeffrey Immelt. A recent GE shareholders meeting stirred up a gale force wind of discontent among investors who see a dangerous nexus between big government, big business and big media, one that works against their best interests.
Meanwhile, much about political theater no longer entertains us.
Congressional committees spank big bankers before the cameras. Then, afterward, slap backs and shake hands, gladly accepting pledges of further campaign contributions. We take note of this, and the wind grows stronger.
Barack Obama's campaign was built on the promise of a whole new spectrum, different from the old one. One with no red states, and no blue states, only the United States. The pitch worked and captured a powerful gust of the wind.
Ross Perot once tapped into the same discontent, but from outside the two-parties. He eventually disappointed his followers. Likewise, Obama's support will eventually hemorrhage as the future brings change for which many of his followers did neither hope, nor vote.
When that happens, we'll hear the wind blow louder over the annoying background noise of continuous campaigning. Campaigning without end, only an election pause.
Most of us are not partisans. Our main skin-in-the-game is our own skin, and that of our loved ones. Plus our over-arching love of country.
Frustrated, we lust after a third party in our hearts, but in our minds we know that won't happen, at least anytime soon. And even if it happened tomorrow, there's no guarantee anything would improve.
For now, we're trapped. Like an audience chained to its seats, we're forced to watch constant, and consistently bad, political theater. An opera where the actors sing off-tune. The words don't match the action. The plot is muddled. And a tone deaf orchestra without talent plays off beat.
So we wonder. What will be the tipping point that inevitably alters The Spectrum?
Meanwhile, in the words of George Orwell, "In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act."