More and more people, including the bi-partisan media keep asking why voters, in general, are so sick of politics. Almost all the discussion and all the solutions center around political issues or ideology. But rarely does anyone ask: is the average voter an “issue-oriented” voter? Does the average American go about their day thinking about what a staunch capitalist or awesome liberal they are? And, a more important question, is it rational for a regular everyday American to step away from their kids, stop watching the olympics, to set their work aside, and to push pause on the things that bring happiness into their lives to sift through the garble that pervades our political dialogue?
I prides myself in being politically aware. But, I rarely have time to delve into issues as deeply as it takes to truly understand them. So, it is easy to rely on others for the latest scoop. But, I increasingly find myself at every hyperbolized tweet and every sensational headline thinking, OK, well who is this coming from and what is the full story?
Just today, while looking through my Twitter feed, and Reddit, and Fox News, and MSNBC and a bunch of other places to find out whats going on, it made me sick. From Republicans saying that Obama just said he wants to provide bailouts for all American industries, to Democrats claiming that Ann Coulter said Fox admitted to being owned by Romney, there is so much distortion of the truth in the political dialogue. If you look at what Obama said, or listen to the video, its pretty clear that these “news stories” are misleading. Yet, the article from Crooks and Liars gets over 1,700 ‘upvotes’ on Reddit and the misleading Obama quote gets a huge Red Headline on Drudge Report.
Undoubtably, millions of people read these headlines and commentaries. Assuredly, many of them go on to repeat the distortions to their family and friends who care a little bit less then them. Like a game of telephone, those misquotes get passed around, and the average person hears a story, which, they know is not the full truth.
Why would a musician want to sift through this spin for the full context? Why would the average soccer mom want to participate in a discussion of distortion? Why would an independent-minded voter want to support candidates that are, at the end of the day, representatives of the respective “left and right” sides of the modern debate? When both sides of the debate refuse to address the other-side in a respectful and truthful manner, why do you think normal people are sick of politics?