Using Technology to Deepen Democracy, Using Democracy to Ensure Technology Benefits Us All

Monday, November 03, 2008

Positive Campaigning Works

Common wisdom has long insisted that negative campaigning is ugly and awful, but... oh, well! It works! So whatcha gonna do? It is devoutly to be wished that an Obama victory will at least undercut that toxic bit of corporate media consensus among the Villagers. The next time some leggy Village Heather giggles and says divisive sludge slinging "works, unfortunately" it might prompt another Village Heather to make the rejoinder that Obama proved mandates are won without negativity and that since such negativity tends to poison the well for actually governing a diverse electorate once one wins, it is usually only desperate campaigns that indulge in it. If negativity signals not ruthless toughness (which no doubt appeals to reptile-brain authoritarians in some measure, even if they make sanctimonious noises in public about its not niceness), but desperation, then maybe that added whiff of loserdom in the slime may finally pull the Rovian splinter of dirty-trickster politics out of our tender wounded hardworking civic hand.


Anisa said...

Hi Dale,
Usually when I don't understand one of your terms I can find it on wikipedia, but not this time. Do you mind explaining the term "Villager" and/or why it's connected to a negative feminine stereotype? I'd like to understand. Thank you.

Dale Carrico said...

Jamais Cascio provides this pithy characterization of "the Village":

the acid term for the Washington, D.C. coterie of strategists, pundits, media figures, and policymakers, all more interested in ensuring their mutual approval than actually confronting problems. The Village has set narratives, and information or opinions that run counter to these set narratives are variously declared "irresponsible," "offensive," or (worst of all) "un-serious." The point of the Village is to perpetuate the Village; political figures who don't pay obeisance to the Village and its narratives are either ignored (if they're insufficiently powerful) or venomously attacked.

A key elaboration of the notion can be found here. But for me the term has stuck mostly because its use by one of my favorite bloggers, Digby, in her fabulous Hullabaloo posts. Digby's use of the term "Heathers" to describe ill-informed hired guns who drive most Village media narratives has gotten rather jumbled together with my use of the Village terminology as well, although these two satirical lines don't always combine in other peoples' use of either of them. I always believed that Digby's use of "Heather" was informed by the film Heathers. If I'm not mistaken, Digby's actual name also happens to be Heather.