by Jeff Swanson
For those, perhaps astutely, living under a rock; Nicole ‘Snooki‘ Polizzi was a star on the MTV semi-juggernaut, The Jersey Shore. A reality TV show about aimless young adults wasting time on the Jersey shore, trying to do as little with their lives as possible. This passes for interesting.
If you read the latter part regarding C-SPAN and your internal voice said ‘Oh yeah, I love BookTV.’, you’re making my point. This last election, we learned how much of a Snooki-ized world we live in. As C-SPAN Conservatives, we learned that being serious about policy isn’t cutting the mustard.
To perpetuate this admittedly sad pop-culture ploy, the Jersey Shore culture proved that we are observers in a world that thrives on the negative. We revel in failure. In negativity. America is no longer a nation that is for something. We are now keen on reactively observing that which we are against.
Reading a post-election Daily Kos member blog by ‘BadKitties’, she states about Republicans, “The pledges are sickening in their blending of religion and government. I firmly believe in the separation of Church and State…I’m sick of the bleating about “small government” coming from the mouths of those who think the government should regulate women’s reproductive choices, by taking them away entirely or making those choices very, very difficult…I’m tired of the Catholic bishops ranting about the evils of contraception and trying to influence legislation…Additionally, Mitt was a deeply flawed candidate. Since his flaws are well-known, I won’t reiterate them.”
Ms. Kittie did say she voted for Obama because he was apparently not those things. No policy to speak of. Only that Obama got her vote because the GOP failed her.
Aside from the projection that Obama was a positive hero of the people, the bulk of the post was what she was against, not for.
Take, for instance a contributor post by Robbie Bruens at the Business Insider, “Romney’s total lack of clarity about his own preferred policies reflects a discrepancy between what he says and who he is. I simply cannot vote for such a man, since at a bare minimum I think the President of the United States should demonstrate some semblance of knowing his own mind.”
This is the summary of 1500 words detailing why he couldn’t find specific tax loophole details on the Romney site. Not on why he would vote for Obama. Such an effort would make the assertion of specificity crumble in the face of Benghazi, shovel ready jobs, a healthcare act not vetted and a single campaign promise of the rich paying their fair share.
Then again, we learned that’s what this election was largely about. President Barack Obama won by demonizing Mitt Romney, “This is a campaign, not about character assassination, even though that’s what I think has come from the Obama camp by and large,”
The man issuing the inaccurate beat down won. The truth is, if those who called Romney everything but the Great Satan, took even a moment to note how their candidate’s campaign did their job, it would be evident that Obama supporters have been blinded.
We are all guilty of candidate and party blindness. Still, the President did not issue any materially detailed policy to campaign upon (save the pamphlet about jobs a week before the election).
This netted Obama the key 2% advantage in popular voting.
We live in a beat down culture. We like to watch The Real Housewives of Where-ever-it-is. When I say ‘Honey Boo Boo‘, how many know what I’m talking about?
We are no longer a culture that sits down and digests thoughtful dialogue. I will grant that C-SPAN would never be a ratings blockbuster but it remains that even on those cable channels once the bastion of thoughtful geekdom; that the History Channel rarely plays anything about history and Discovery is now about reality (TV that is).
As I haplessly grapple to make a coherent point to all this, I mean to say that we can no longer hope to have a campaign based simply on big ideas. It’s not going to be effective.
Governing on big ideas is the goal, getting there must take a very different path. As Mitt stated about negative campaigning and even John McCain refusing to go negative in ’08, they failed in a target rich environment.
Obama did not. He succeeded against opponents who, on paper, would be hard to beat. As reiterated by the New York Post’s, John Podhoretz, “As Adm. James T. Kirk told the genetically superior Khan in that peerless work of hard-headed political science, “Star Trek 2,” “You’ve managed to kill everyone else, but like a poor marksman, you keep missing the target!”
Having a principled campaign feels good. It does. When your guy doesn’t go there, you feel good. You feel on the side of right.
That’s neato and everything but we still have the most spend heavy President in the White House.
The masses read nary a word about politics and only take their queues from People Magazine. I know this is cynical. When’s the last time you went to the Doctor’s office and saw a tattered Time next to a pristine People? Not likely. It was probably the other way around.
The real fact of the matter; we need to be sure we govern in a principled manner but understand that we communicate in a world of pop culture. We think Republicans are the party of business but we have a gargantuan blind spot with regard to target marketing.
The fight is no longer happening on the high road. Then again, was it ever? Gotta take on the fight where the fight is happening. You don’t have to play gutter politics but you must be willing to wallow in its dirtiness to effectively hope to communicate.
The reality is, a tough and muddy fight has long been a tradition in the politics of America.
You cannot effectively hope to fight with the circumstances you hope for, you fight with the circumstances you currently have.
We have a pop culture world, now start dealing with it.