The clash of the ideological duality in US politics used to be a fairly timid turf war over the middle ground. That has change. Now, the puerile bluster is no longer about political thought in any formal sense. Now, politics is about cultures — two of them: the left and the right and each is tethered less to ideas and principles then it is to raw emotions.
That’s the big take-away from Matt Taibbi’s interesting piece, Sarah Palin, WWE Star.
The really beautiful thing about the culture war, from an entertainment standpoint, is that it is fundamentally irresolvable. There isn’t a concrete set of issues involved, where in theory both sides could give in a little and find middle ground, reach some sort of compromise.
That’s because there are no issues at all. At the end of this decade what we call “politics” has devolved into a kind of ongoing, brainless soap opera about dueling cultural resentments and the really cool thing about it, if you’re a TV news producer or a talk radio host, is that you can build the next day’s news cycle meme around pretty much anything at all, no matter how irrelevant — like who’s wearing a flag lapel pin and who isn’t, who spent $150K worth of campaign funds on clothes and who didn’t, who wore a t-shirt calling someone a cunt and who didn’t, and who put a picture of a former Vice Presidential candidate in jogging shorts on his magazine cover (and who didn’t).
It doesn’t matter what the argument is about. What’s important is that once the argument starts, the two sides will automatically coalesce around the various instant-cocoa talking points and scream at each other until they’re blue in the face, or until the next argument starts.
He’s right. Somewhere along the way political conviction morphed into cultural emotions, usually cheered on by fat white guys but, as we know all too well, more recently by a comely hockey mom.
What is missing today is discipline.
Now that we’ve all been empowered, we don’t need discipline any more: there is no need to read, to think, to inquire. Now, and Ms Palin is the new archetype here, if you’ve got the right look or voice or bias you can just perform and people will flock to you like the unthinking sheep we have become.
So we gather around our shepherds: Rush and Glen and Barrack and Sarah and all the others, not to learn but to feel safe with all the other sheep who are just like us. And, to coin a phrase, those who aren’t with us are against us.
EXCEPT, it isn’t just about the left and the right any more. The biggest class in US politics is the Independent and they are growing by the day.
They are the wolves and the sheep should feel threatened. And so should Sarah.