Tuesday, May 13, 2008

A Crisis for Our Political System

"George W. Bush has now gone 40 months without majority approval from the country he's supposed to represent and govern. That's longer than Truman, Nixon, or any other president since the advent of polling. He has cracked 70% disapproval, another first, and is now more unpopular than Nixon was directly before he resigned from office. He is shockingly unpopular, and this is a reality that neither the Congress nor the media has quite figured out how to address. It's something of a crisis for our political system that the president has now spent over three years hated and mistrusted by the majority of the country, and yet has never felt the need to take steps to restore his legitimacy. Something is wrong."

At the risk of pointing out the obvious, the corporate Media is actively blocking the expression of the country's discontent in our national political discourse. The pattern of scandal and corruption is never given the catalysis of a voice, articulating the full perception of a pattern, along with the outrage it justifies. Effective and credible voices, speaking from a moral center, with a considered and informed view, are largely excluded from the national political discourse, or drowned out by the political clowns, the professionally complacent, the glibertarians and the right-wing shills.

The most troubling, to me, are those Media figures, who adopt an above-the-fray non-partisan complacency, while posing as referees. I am thinking especially of people, like Charlie Rose or Tim Russert, who exercise the power of gatekeepers. Even worse, are the clowns, like Chris Matthews and the professional incompetents like Mark Halperin.

Think about the N.Y. Times op-ed page. Then, imagine the contrast of Maureen Dowd with, say, digby of Hullabaloo.

The blogosphere is large, and reaches an increasing audience, but a vast part of America sees only the political news drivel of the corporate Media. They are not completely ignorant, but they see things through a Media filter, that keeps them from connecting their daily experience, a few bits of news, and the political reality of Republican policy and process, with their own participation in the political process.

The Media's incompetence, focus on the trivial, lack of institutional memory, and complacent neutrality contribute to the maintaince of a large part of the country in completely separate, virtual realities. Conservatives simply do not have to face the collapse of the economy or the catastrophe of the Iraq War as an objective, shared reality, and so, they can not be compelled to cooperate with the center or left, in the kind of course correction that followed Nixon and Watergate.

It is simply not possible for the country's discontent to catalyze into a political upheaval in any way, outside of the political campaign -- and even that outlet is threatened by the determination of the Media to trivialize and slander Democrats, while mechanically lauding McCain.

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