Friday, May 9, 2008
I haven't been posting much lately, and part of the reason is my level of frustration with the current political discourse. I know that a lot of political success is based on emotion, and passion can be a good thing, but lately it's been getting vicious. The divide amongst liberal political blogs between Obama and Clinton is striking, and to my mind petty. I can say this objectively, as I'll support either one but am enthusiastic about neither. Both are too conservative for my taste, but either would be better than any republican. For the record, I voted for Obama in the primary because my preferred candidates had already dropped out.
The media love emotional divides. They draw eyeballs, so any "gotcha" issues become a media obsession. In depth policy discussions don't sell advertising. With a close race, the media looks for the soap opera emotional drama. It sells.
Amongst the most divisive emotional appeals in the current race is the "identity" politics. We get to see the breakdown by "black", "female", "white", "college educated", and "working class" voters analyzed and parsed, as if each demographic group is a monolithic block without any other identity (I'm not sure that I really fit the "middle-aged white guy" profile) and will vote a certain way based on that identity. The republicans love to encourage these divisions, and I fear that in some cases it may be working. I've been told by an avid Clinton supporter that I'm a chauvinist, and by an equally avid Obama supporter that I'm a racist, because I'm not enthusiastically for either.
Sadly, this is the state of politics in America today. Appeal to the emotion at the expense of the intellect. But derision and division are a poor substitute for substantive policy.