Ignorance reigns supreme in America, as the above screen-grab from the NY Times website clearly shows. Just looking at all those red states on the map is enough to make one’s stomach churn. How can people be so easily fooled when it comes to politics? How is it that otherwise reasonably intelligent people can be duped into believing the endless corporate propaganda that is the Republican Party?
Clearly, our system is broken. Our political process has transformed into a mockery of democracy; it is a mad carnival in every aspect, emphasizing the trivial and banal rather than the core issues that matter most to ordinary Americans. The MSM can’t really be blamed; today’s media is a profit-driven industry, just like the automotive and IT industries. The media’s goal is to sell a product: they aim to sell audiences to advertisers, and to attract the largest audiences, they will do whatever seems necessary.
A network which delved into a meaningful discussion on the ramifications of, for example, switching to a single-payer health care system would quickly go bankrupt, since the majority of people in our sound byte society simply aren’t interested in thinking. We are not far off from the America of Mike Judge’s “Idiocracy,” but today, instead of being called a “fag” for showing signs of intelligence (though this does happen), we are called “liberals.”
How many Republicans have you met who are actually well-informed and open to meaningful debate? I honestly cannot think of a single one. Of course, they all think they are well-informed, but as soon as you challenge them on any point, rather than clarifying their position, they tend to start flinging labels and insults. And that is the sad state of politics in America, the world’s supposed shining beacon of democratic principles.
There are no obvious solutions at hand for the grave dilemma we face as a nation. Obviously, the vast sums of corporate money that currently drive our political process need to be expelled. But I think the most important issue that needs to be dealt with is the hugely negative influence that our corporate-controlled mainstream media has on public opinion.
People innately trust the media, even if they are loathe to admit it. Righties like to complain that the media is biased towards the left, but they fail to realize that – while this accusation in itself is patently false – the most important and detrimental role played by the media is in framing issues. The media outlines which issues are open for debate in our society, and determines which range of viewpoints is to be considered valid.
For instance, in the media coverage about health care reform, the prospect of dismantling insurance companies altogether was never even mentioned, even though this would be the most pragmatic solution to the myriad problems we currently face. This particular viewpoint was simply not allowed to enter the discussion, and the vast majority of Americans failed to realize that it was even a possibility.
So although Republicans may claim that the media is liberally-biased, they are missing the most fundamental role that the media plays in our society. And sadly, most self-professed Liberals fall victim to the same fallacy. Liberals claim, and rightly so, that the media is inherently biased towards the Right. But in so doing, most leftists simultaneously allow the corporate-owned media to define the parameters of the debate, which inevitably results in a dramatic shift to the right.
This is why surveys routinely show that the majority of Americans agree with the views of someone like Dennis Kucinich, but candidates of his ilk are generally barred from ever presenting their views through any MSM outlet.
The Internet has allowed for the growth of alternative information sources, and for those who are motivated enough to take advantage of them, they are a wonderful thing. The problem remains, however, because the majority of Americans are too apathetic to seek out the information they need to remain informed. People just want to turn on the TV or surf to CNN.com, because this is what is easiest and most obvious. And the MSM has been extremely effective in creating a massive conglomeration of programs and products that simultaneously reinforce the message presented in their various “news” outlets, and induce the populace to remain in its zombie-like state of endless consumption and entertainment. And that is what the American way has come to mean.
Until honest, progressive news sources have the ability to broadcast themselves into every home in America, alongside the blather of Fox News and CNN, democracy will remain doomed.
On a brighter note, however, there remains a tiny glimmer of hope that Independent Eliot Cutler might hold out to defeat the teabagger Paul LePage in my home state of Maine. At this point we can only hope.