I extract a popular comment on an Insty link about Governor Perry being indicted because he was a meanie face to a drunken criminal Democrat, and held her accountable for really drunk driving:
Watching the local news and a bit of ABC this weekend, all I gleaned from their coverage was “GOV. PERRY (R) INDICTED” which is what I suspect vast swaths of the voting public will only see and recall. Hence, mission accomplished. –F Black
Ah, yes. The Low Information Voter. There have been books written about the phenomenon – that it’s actually quite rational for most people to be completely ignorant about politics. In fact, an ideal civil arrangement would leave the vast majority of people with no reason to bother about the government, except in time of war and tax day.
But you can’t combine that ideal state of affairs with near-universal franchise; those totally ignoring government to live their lives do no harm and no good (politically speaking), but those participants who only know a little bit about the political issues of the day can be all too easily tricked by
conmenpoliticians. Especially when the aforementioned low-information voters get their news sources from people who are partisans first, second, and third and reporters last. And the existence of Fox News doesn’t help either – that’s just the same kind of spin, just in a different direction – although at least Fox News is well known for being conservative and doesn’t (AFAIK) masquerade as anything other than what it is. (I don’t consume any mainstream media at all: I find the level of discourse to be either infuriating or retarded, and usually both at once.)
Sarah Hoyt is optimistic that our changing technologies, which lend themselves to individual power rather than centralized power, will improve matters. To some extent, it already has: people can use the internet to get news and perspectives that are excluded by the big names in media. However, the low-information voter, by definition, doesn’t do this; she simply votes for whatever option looks shiniest at the time. The cynical side of me sees the application of voter bribing schemes combined with popular media that’s filled with ideological zealots divorced from reality as incompatible with a truly just government.
Government derives its just authority from the consent of the governed. It’s the duty of the individual to pay at least a little bit of attention to the political process – but that “little bit of attention” becomes a drastic negative as soon as the primary sources of information about the political process become subverted by partisans exercising their will to power rather than objective journalism. There is nothing so dangerous as thinking you know something – and being wrong about it. A political culture that operates based on secretive collusion (Journolist), “volunteer” persecution of political enemies in bureaucracy (IRS), as well as outright lies (Obama!) and has media superiority enforced by ideological purity tests?
Mhmm. I’m pretty sure I saw some fainting flower on the internet somewhere claiming that if your partner is cheating on you, and has sex with you while keeping his cheating secret, then you’re incapable of informed consent and thus it’s RAPE. Well, I don’t agree with calling it rape, but it’s certainly an evil act of fraud. Which is exactly what politicians, activists, and lobbyists do every day to the American people – with the willing collusion of the media giants.
Representative government only works so long as the culture of politicians and media watchdogs prizes honesty. We’re currently being ruled (yes, ruled, not represented) by a bunch of two-faced liars who promised us “the most transparent administration” evah.
The lying and cooking the books and manipulation works for a while, or at least seems to on the surface. But in all of history to date, exercising power over communication to promulgate lies rather than the truth about politics and government policy has a rather bad track record. Reality can’t be bullshitted forever, and when the facade fails and the promised utopia isn’t in evidence? See for example: housing bubble crash. And actual revolutions tend to be bloody, upsetting affairs. Not something to be desired.
Here’s an idea: if you’re seeking power while you conceal your true intentions or lie about the results of whatever you’ve been doing, (one) you’re a bad person and (two) YOU SHOULDN’T BE DOING IT.