Friday, April 23, 2010


After rereading part 1, and fixing the typo, I realized that I hadn't finished the thoughts started in that post.

Clearly, I could go on for pages with examples, like the Tea Party claims that Obama has "plans" for stripping us of our freedoms. Or any and all of the claims of the "birthers". Or the "truthers". But, of course, maybe I'm the one fibbing about those guys. In the end, that's the whole point.

So long as our press and media continue to frame all issues as having (at least) two opposing positions, and that those positions, regardless of merit, are equally valid and possibly correct, we will be faced with this type of horse race journalism at every turn. Just check out the Sunday talk show circuit. In this corner we have Dem. (Senator, Congressman, Adviser, Author) versus a GOP somebody, who will be asked softball questions about issues of the day. We'll hear Dem. talking points countered by GOP talking points and, of course, the reverse. This will happen sometimes four or five times and hour regardless of the importance, or lack of importance, of the topic. War good! War bad! Torture good! Torture bad! And on and on it goes.

Here's a thought. How about bringing actual experts on to explain the issues? Of course, then the other channels would find their own experts to counter the first experts and away we'll go again. That is the true harm we face. With no trusted voices we will grow more and more apart, sorting ourselves to an ever greater degree into us and them. This is called Tribalism and we certainly can see one long term result of that type of social separation; can you say Middle East.

Am I being too alarmist here? Maybe, but unlike certain groups on the conservative side of the argument, I don't see our society as being immune from the type of tribal disputes that abound in the world. We just think that we're better then that. We're not. Just look at the recent spat that grew around the Governor of Virginia and his declaration of a Confederate History Month without a mention of slavery. Listening to some of the rhetoric you'd have thought that the Civil War was about to start again!

I think that the best course, at least for the individual, is to try not to take sides at all. Unfortunately, when everyone around you is screaming, it's awfully hard to not start screaming too. Oh well. Is it cocktail time yet?

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