11.01.2004



The promising (yet unpromised) land awaits


Or: Hope for reasoned discourse

Once this election is over, there will be much navel gazing and hand wringing by the media punditry and party machines, and (I expect) befuddled introspection on the part of news editors in the mainstream media. How could they have been so wrong? How could they have been so clueless?

It doesn't take being a most-minor blogger personality to see that the mainstream media is -- and has been for quite some time -- rather out of touch with the realities of what we Americans think, want and experience in our day-to-day lives. Esconced in their corporate and corporate-sponsored thrones in front of the cameras, they cannot, do not, or simply never have thought to see, the world outside their windows. Like passengers in limousines speeding along freeways elevated and walled off from the neighborhoods they presumably connect, they see glimpses of people, the ones on high ground or briefly visible through gaps in the terrain, but all too often they see only the other cars in traffic -- they see each other -- and draw their conclusions about the world accordingly. They speak of fast lanes and lanes, of racing to milestones, of who's blocking whom and who's getting the honks of other drivers, all the while claiming to speak for the multitudes who live in those neighborhoods they have not seen. They speak out of ignorance, allowing for nothing but certitude, platitudes, and heavy doses of attitudes.

It's rather telling that it takes a comedian to get anyone to even discuss the possibility that the emperor has no clothes. The monkey shows on the networks and cable may make for valuable commercial time, but they don't advance the cause of understanding; they may serve the desires of the political machines who want to keep things simplistic, but they don't serve the needs of the people who elect them.

All this can change, however, when the saying machines realize that the people aren't serving their needs, either. What will they think when all their spin, prognostications, prevarications and pompous posings turn out to have little relevance to the reality out here in the electorate?

Perhaps it doesn't matter. Perhaps the answer is not in the idiot box, but rather on the desktop, laptop and palmtop. After all, the problem with the tube is that it's not interactive -- which means it's more reactive to its own shadow. Lost on the far end of a one-way cable feed, it has no way to feed back to the source. What an interactive medium like the net offers is feedback.

Discussion.

Debate.

Community.

What this means in the political realm is that the more moderate voices on right, left and center and behind can find traction and be heard.

And be appreciated.

Today you have to go to the more marginal shows on the more marginal channels to hear voices of true progressives, who are for smart and effective government, and true conservatives, who are for small and non-intrusive government (so oversimplify both "sides"). In the mainstream, these voices are lost in the grandiose, self-righteous posing of the reactionary Right and Left. While some of these more moderate (yet no less passionate) voices, especially the progressives, have taken advantage of the net, not all have. But once they do -- and you know they will, eventually, even if they come kicking and screaming -- the very nature of the medium changes the message.

When influential political dialog can happen with an engaged and interacting public on rational terms, where spin cannot easily pose as fact, our politicians win. Our nation wins. We the people win.

It can happen sooner, or it can happen later. (Or, if we let the centralizing forces bull right over us, it might never happen at all.) Each of us can do our part by reaching out and engaging on issues important to us.

But it will take real leaders to take our political discourse firmly into these greener pastures -- especially with the knowledge that this revolution certainly will not be televised.

Where will we find this man or woman?

Will it be you? If not you, then who?

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