Wednesday, August 4, 2010

A Funny Place To Find Inspiration

I've been asking myself why I've taken an unplanned summer sabbatical from blogging. Here is, I think, one big reason: I'm pretty of sick of 24x7 political "news." I mean, aren't you? It's one manufactured controversy after another. And the corollary to that, which has had me feeling a little burned out, is how irrelevant and short-sighted the national political discussion seems to be.
"Today a flock of seagulls was spotted by beachgoers in Delaware. What does this mean for President Obama?! Let's have a Republican and a Democratic strategist debate it."
Meanwhile, the Huffington Post and the Drudge Report have to keep updating their headlines if they want to stay relevant. But if each day there are multiple shock-bomb, red-alert headlines from these sites, what do they do when something truly shocking happens?

It's like the story of the boy who cried, "It's the end of American democracy!" The first time the boy yelled, the people came running up the hill to help, but they found just another Congressman in a sex scandal. The second time the boy yelled, "It's the end of American democracy," the people came running up the hill, but they found only a trade imbalance with China. So, next time, when something really could be the end of American democracy--climate change? nuclear war? creeping white nationalism?--the boy may yell, but no one will take him seriously. They think it's the same old game.

Another reason I've drifted from blogging is that the stuff I've been thinking and reading about lately has been more macro and long-term in focus. What will America be like 30 years from now? Or 50? Will nation-states still be the dominant political units in 100 years? How will demographic shifts change the political culture in the America my children grow up in? (Actually, I'd like to take a stab at some of these questions, so expect future posts on these topics.)

So if the above are some reasons I've been gone, here is one reason I'm back. I mentioned in a previous post that I now work in an office where Fox News is blaring all day. Well, here's what I've learned, and I've watched enough that I feel qualified to say this. The people at Fox are not chiefly dumb, and they are not chiefly crazy. They are not just right-wingers barking knee-jerk reactions to the day's events. No. They are deliberate and hard working. They're purposeful. They're working hard every day to shape a narrative that, if accepted by the mainstream, would redraw America along a very reactionary line.

I don't want to live in the country they're trying to build, and neither do you. One of the most powerful things we can do to push back is to build a counter-narrative. You and I don't have a 24-hour cable network. But we do have friends and family and neighbors and coworkers who listen to us, and we have Facebook pages and community groups and blogs. We've heard this said a thousand different ways, but it's different when we learn it on our own: We really must speak the truth, or else lies will march all over us.


Camp Papa said...

Welcome back, BTM. Since you've been away, I've found myself inexplicably inclined to protect the interests of the mega-rich and to foment distrust among working class peoples.

What Pale Blue Dot? said...

So, next time, when something really could be the end of American democracy--climate change? nuclear war? creeping white nationalism?

It's more that they won't listen because those are "liberal lies."

Elizabeth said...

So would now be a good time to talk about net neutrality?

Glad to have you back. And thankful for your perspective on our hardworking friends at Fox News.

Jenni said...

I really politically burned out as well. It's so hard when you live in DC and the national news is your local news and it's all politics, politics, politics all the time.

Welcome back