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A worry about US viability

by on January 29, 2010

As I sometimes do, I’m posting a message I (just) wrote to Andrew Sullivan, because I felt it necessary to comment on a post on his blog. Please expand my world view.

Your worry

My worry, however, is that there are enough Americans perfectlyhappy to live with this nihilism indefinitely, and to perpetuate the policies of spend-and-borrow and invade-and-occupy that any serious attempt to address our problems is impossible. And their response tothat will be to blame all those problems on a Democratic president, if there is one; and if there’s a Republican president, to simply deny that any of the problems exist at all.

Is a significant worry, and it’s not to be ignored, if we intend to survive as a country.  When I read this I realized where the problem stems from.  It is both the root of our modern system, which gave us Obama, and the curse of our modern system.  Web 2.0.  This wonderful world of the internet, which allows me to know that you exist, and to communicate with you, produces problems for us.  I think yesterday you wrote about how we seek confirmation of our own views, both with cable networks and with online news; true.

Look at the numbers for a moment.  We who follow the news want the numbers to be believable.  There’s about 20-25% of Americans who call themselves Republicans.  Another 20-25% who are Democrats.  There’s a big middle ground, and that’s where our elections focus.  “…their response tothat will be to blame all those problems on a Democratic president, ifthere is one; and if there’s a Republican president, to simply denythat any of the problems exist at all,” you said.  That’s true.  But you’re hearing so much noise, so much outcry, because there is web 2.0.  And there has been, for even longer, cable news.  You’re hearing screaming because the networks give us screaming.  And the online news – well, we choose to read the person who yells loudest online too, right?  If all we had was still five national cable networks and some local news, the screaming you hear would be very different.

It seems to me that we don’t have a choice in whether the screaming is there or not.  It will come from both sides; this is the noise you hear in politics.  ” Democracy in a nation of 300 million people can be noisy and messy and complicated,” Obama told us Wednesday.  Our choice is in how we hear that noise.  Frankly, it would be nice to just shut everything up for an hour and not have the talking heads.  But that’s not a viable choice.  Instead we have to choose which noise to listen to, and how to synthesize it so that we can guide ourselves in a direction we want to take.  As for which direction that is … that’s a different story.

From → US Politics

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