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Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Scylla And Charybdis In A Silly Season Gone Sour

There are two key institutional failures that are conspicuous in this utterly demoralizing election cycle:

[first] is the radical dysfunction of the GOP, one of our only two major political parties, in failing to ward of the primary challenge of such an objectively outrageous, dangerous and unqualified nominee as Donald Trump (McCain's Vice-Presidential Palin pick, the embrace of the Tea Party and subsequent rejection of the recommendations of the post-2012 Autopsy Report were the canaries in the coal mine here), and also

[second] is the mainstream news-media's radical dysfunction as a vetting apparatus for candidate qualification and the truth of public claims -- for which all the embarrassing gossip-chasing and false equivalency and horse-race narrative fetishization on display are merely accompaniments (the failure to vet George W. Bush's foreign policy and economic policy claims on the campaign trail and then uncritical acquiescence in the rollout of the illegal, immoral, ruinous war and occupation of Iraq with all its catastrophic consequences, many still ongoing, were the canaries in the coal mine here).

Of these two institutional crises I actually believe GOP dysfunction is the easier one to remedy -- though most of the short-term incentives still favor pandering to its racist ignorant discontented base since resistance means confrontation now rather than later with the abyss, ultimately the diversifying, secularizing, urbanizing, planetizing reality of Obama-epoch America requires a course correction from the GOP if they are to be a nationally viable party rather than a superannuated regional rump. As a life time Democrat I do recognize the necessity of a nationally viable, functionally governing opposition party (however much I disapprove of its ideology) as a check on corruption and complacency in my own party. This is all the more true given that the political effort to reform the two-party system seems in every way harder than the political effort simply to accomplish goals frustrated by the two-party system through the system itself, which means we are going to have a two-party rather than anything like a parliamentary system for the foreseeable future frustrating though that is -- and hence it would be a good thing if both the parties were at least minimally sensible and competent whatever their differences.

As for the other institutional failure, my own hope over the last twenty years has been that news-media would reform under pressure of digital democratization and activist journalism... and that hope has by now palpably failed in my opinion and it is hard for me to find another countervailing power to build an optimistic narrative for our prospects around right now. Advertorial infotainment and access-driven celebrity-gossip narratives suffuse the form at this point, perhaps beyond remediation so long as informing the electorate is a profit-driven enterprise. I guess as an educator myself, then, I'm pinning my hopes on this score (such as they are) on a better educated populace in the future, hopes that depend on increasing public education investment, improving access, lowering costs and eliminating debt, and raising standards in all jurisdictions, hopes that yoke me ever more tightly to Democratic Party politics (despite the Party's present distressing STEM fetishism and vulnerability to privatization schemes via various tech fads -- which rightly worried me about Gore, rightly worried me about Obama, and rightly worries me about Clinton).

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