Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Four More Years in Mediacracy

Yesterday democracy won and republicanism lost. I’m not talking about the high and lofty versions of those notions but in their popular senses.

I said elsewhere that half of the electorate would vote to ensure that the other half keeps subsidizing them, in one way or another. That if the first half wins two things are going to happen. First, the second half will have to work longer and harder to do two things in turn, one to keep their current life style, and two to help maintain the first half where they are. Second, the first half will increase in numbers as the second half will decrease in theirs. This will ensure the reelection ad perpetuam of those for whom the first half voted. And that depending on what half voters are or think they are is how most likely they would vote.

Some people could not understand the social and economic description of this political reality and took personal exceptions. The numbers are there. Democratic populism succeeded in demonstrating its hegemony over the popular culture, its means of production and control. Republicanism lost by failing to occupy that space.

I conducted mock elections among my students yesterday in two classes. And Obama won 2 to 1 (almost 3 to 1). Interestingly enough that is about the same ratio between the students that are lazy and want everything given to them, and those that actually want to work for their grades.

Racism also won. Most blacks voted again for Obama based on racial identity. And Democrat media pundits and celebrities used the race card against “the white guy”. Classism also won against “the rich guy”. Ironically, super wealthy celebrities mostly used this canard.

If the numbers of unhappy Ron Paul supporters who stayed home had an impact then libertarianism also lost, in fact, it may have died of irrelevance as a political movement, a Ross Perot type of footnote in political history.

In 2008 candidate Obama ran a campaign on themes of “hope”, “change”, “new politics”, upbeat mood. He won but not with a mandate. In 2012 President Obama ran on moving “forward”, yet based his campaign on the demonization of his opponent.

Now the Rubicon has been crossed. At least 50% of the American people are voting on feelings. Many of my female friends voted for Obama simply because “I feel like he listens to me”, or “he makes me feel good.”

Perhaps liberal political advisors like Dr. George Lakoff, a linguist and cognitive scientist at the University of California, Berkeley, was right when he suggested that voters should be made “to feel” not “to think”. According to Dr. Lakoff, the opinions of voters are neither logical nor self-arrived at, and therefore should be ignored. Instead, campaigns should rely less on facts and more on emotional images and dramatization, “casting progressives as heroes, and by implication, conservatives as villains.”

Again Obama does not have a strong mandate. Up to last week he could not rise above 50% in the polls. Perhaps this time he will learn the art of the democratic compromise or like a friend of mine says nothing will happen. “This administration's second term will be just like Clinton's second term: nothing but House committees investigating everything from Benghazi through the real nuts and bolts of the auto "bailout". The health care act will be blocked from funding. Another wasted four years.” It is going to be up to President Obama and the Democrat leadership.

As the gap between the dependent and the self-reliant decreases, so will the ambit of liberty. Those who understand this understand the risks of democracy. But they also understand the greater risks of having no democracy; as someone said, “Democracy is not perfect but is better than the alternative.” Information and access to information will is essential to preserve it. We cannot count on the press. It is a mediocre press. We live in mediacracy.

President Obama has a new lease on his political life to show what he meant when he promised four years ago a "new tone and politics in Washington". He admitted a few weeks ago that Washington "can't be changed from the inside". It will be fascinating to watch his other approach, if he has one. If the record of the last four years is telling I don't expect him to seek compromise. Yet, there is still hope.