Tuesday, January 19, 2010

I Blame Cable TV

by Michael Lind - January 18th, 2010 - Salon

Here's the problem: Most of the representatives of progressivism you see on TV are not really progressives. They are what might be called "Democratists." Most publicly prominent conservatives are not principled conservatives at all. They are "Republicanists."

What that has accomplished is to gut the intellectual discussions within the two parties, leaving everyone with blurry labels. It is almost impossible to find out what anyone truly believes any more. Candidates for each party, from their earliest days, obfuscate their positions so that they can appeal to whatever seems most expeditious for their party in the current election. However they are very careful to leave themselves wiggle room to change their minds if it becomes politically expedient.

This new world of politics is actually encouraging of the worst sort of politicians. Those who truly have no sincere beliefs are much more comfortable and accepting of this environment. They are thus the kind of candidates that quickly become the so-called leaders in both parties and who attract the support of partisan operatives. You can easily recognize these partisan operatives. They are very likable people, masters of schmooze and spout the party line. People like Mary Matalin and James Carville come to mind. Neither of these people could love the other if they really cared about the principles that they espouse. In actuality, the only principle they care about is winning and being important within their community. That each recognizes in the other an unprincipled commitment to the political game is amusing.

What some of these partisan operatives have learned is that you have to pretend sincerity. Any who have switched parties find it difficult to ever be a leader or effective operative in the other party. They are considered traitors. Having picked a party, that is where you must stay.

However you can, like Karl Rove, enthusiastically embrace the political ideology of the other party. Since no one really discusses these issues any more, you can repackage the other party's ideology on specific issues to expand your party's base. Rove found that promoting socialism under the "compassionate conservative" label is completely okay. No matter that it is an insult to the individual liberty that is the core component of both conservative and libertarian ideals in the Republican Party. As intellectual discussions over economic and government theory have ended in favor of the partisan promotion of power, there are more than enough people who accept this totally fraudulent concept as "conservative" simply because it uses the word. That it is not conservative in any way makes no difference. (In case you can't tell I despise Karl Rove and George W. Bush for their promotion of this concept which I have relabeled "compassionate communism" since it is much more communist than conservative.)

The huge programming void has exacerbated this end of political discussion based on philosophies like socialist, liberal, populist, conservative and libertarian.

I agree with the premise of the article. I am also intrigued by the concept mentioned in the article of the potential for the Internet to replace Democrat and Republican oriented cable channels with libertarian, socialist, populist and conservative web casting sites. (One thing that is amusing is the careful way in which Michael Lind denotes his own political bias. He never mentions socialist without the softening term "democratic", as in democratic-socialist. He never calls progressives by their now unpopular label of liberal. These are keys to his political orientation.)

As Lind notes though.

The point is that principled political discussion needs to make the leap from the dying print media and blogs to the audiovisual realm. If it doesn't, then American public discourse in what, despite hype about the blogosphere, remains the most influential medium may continue to consist of fake wrestling matches pitting professional Democratists against professional Republicanists.

In that I agree.


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