Rolling Stone magazine is not known for the depth of their political insight, but they are pretty good on cultural commentary. In an October 2, 2008, article, Stone writer Matt Taibbi has this insight about the cultural implications of choosing presidential and vice-presidential candidates:
“The great insight of the Palin VP choice is that huge chunks of American voters no longer even demand that their candidates actually have policy positions; they simply consume them as media entertainment, rooting for or against them according to the reflexive prejudices of their demographic, as they would for reality-show contestants or sitcom characters. [Link]”
U.S. national political discourse now has essentially no relation to issues. It’s all about manipulating the polls. It’s like TV shows which get put on the air, not because they’re good, but because they’ll get good Neilsen ratings and sell ads. It’s like the “recording artists” who get Grammy awards for musically-poor recordings that get aggressively marketed.
The sorry state of U.S. politics goes hand-in-hand with what’s going on in our larger culture. Consumerist greed has combined with anti-intellectualism in the U.S., which is why the presidential race has been degraded to nothing more than a crummy TV show, another episode of “Survivor.” For someone like me whose religious convictions condemn greed and honor the use of reason, all this consumerist greed and anti-intellectualism is, well, sinful. I wish my man Isaiah (you know, the prophet Isaiah) were alive today…
“Thy silver is become dross, thy wine mixed with water:
Thy princes are rebellious, and companions of thieves: they all loveth lobbyists’ gifts, and followeth after rewards: they defend not the orphan, neither doth the cause of the widow come unto them.
Therefore saith the Lord, the Lord of hosts, the mighty One of Israel, Ah, I will ease me of mine adversaries, and avenge me of mine enemies:
And I will turn my hand upon thee, and purely purge away thy dross, and take away all thy tin:
And I will restore thy honest judges as at the first, and thy true statesmen as at the beginning: afterward thou shalt be called, The city of righteousness, the faithful city.
Zion shall be redeemed with judgment, and her people with righteousness.
And the destruction of the transgressors and of the sinners shall be together, and they that sin shall be consumed.”
[Isaiah 1.22-28, KJV, slightly modified]
Gotta love those old prophets.