In many posts regarding politics, I have mentioned how much I dislike the “sporitification” of politics. I do not believe in political teams. And I do not like the “us” versus “them” attitudes of most ideologues. One of the main reasons I dislike this turn has been how it affects low-information voters.
The best way to describe these people are the Americans who come in and out of politics, but do not read newspapers every day. They spot-check the news, but generally, they focus more on day to day options and entertainment. The principal function of our government has been to safeguard these Americans.
The Founding Fathers set up a republic instead of a democracy so that people did not have to focus their entire lives on politics. But this created a political class that appears to be the focal point for most of the country’s hatred. This focus group highlights the reason.
Most Americans have a point of view. That point of view is jaded and biased. It always has been. It focuses on the people that surround them and the issues they encounter. One of the reasons gay marriage gained popularity is that more people recognized that they were denying rights to friends and families. But most minority groups do not appear sporadically in family settings.
How can we create the empathy that the last man talked about? How can we show someone who believes that a “minimum wage job” is not just a teenage job but is just a job? We need to tell our stories.
And many of us have defined our political allegiance for the foreseeable future. 35% of people are solidly Democrats. 35% of people are solidly Republican. Most likely, this has not changed in decades. But what has?
The Democratization of America
Every day we all can post our thoughts, pictures, emotions, and dinner plans. We can share any news story that we want and we can build our own newspapers and TV schedules. But we do not tell our stories or discuss our opinions.
Back in college, I watched Regis and Kelly on occasion. And I remember one conversation they had about email. Kelly was making fun of Regis for not using email. And he said he didn’t use it because it wanted to talk to people. He said that email is telling someone what you think, feel, or are doing, and not really caring if you get a response.
Social media has taken that to an extreme. We no longer have discussions about politics. We post a meme. We share an article. We put out a vague statement. And we want “likes,” not a counterpoint. And we can erase those counterpoints. We can unfollow people or block them and still remain their “friends.” In other words, we can look at their pictures and see what they are doing but we do not have to interact with them on a daily basis.
As we craft these stories for ourselves, we cut out that empathy or the part that makes us question our beliefs. And we then create the bubble of our beliefs. That’s not democracy. It’s ignorance.