In my lifetime, there have been two technologies which transformed how the political game is played. The first was the invention of air conditioning, which allowed Congress to stay in session beyond Memorial Day.
The Senate and House shut down between Memorial Day and Labor Day because D.C. was simply too hot and too humid during the summer months. And when the Congress reconvened in September, things only got started after the World Series was played.
What this meant was that the Presidential campaigns every four years and the Congressional campaigns every other year lasted two months. Think I’m kidding? Find someone else who was born in or before 1944 (like me) and ask them if I’m wrong.
The second technology that has transformed politics is broadband because now any politician can quickly and easily achieve national recognition, no matter what state he or she represents. Do you think that anyone outside of the northwest corner of Georgia would have ever heard of Marjorie Taylor Greene if she didn’t have access to the internet?
These two technologies have given us a political season which is national in scope and never ends. I notice, for example, that a year before the mid-terms we now get a new national political poll almost every day. Joe is behind Trump, Democrats will lose umpteen number of House seats, blah, blah, blah, and blah. Do you really believe that an electoral poll means anything when it’s conducted a year before the election takes place?
In the olden days, the saying around the newsroom was ‘if it bleeds, it leads.’ Now the saying around the Zoom meeting must be something like, ‘if it clicks, it sticks.’ Every time Trump opened his mouth, it used to be a news ‘event.’ In the last five months, his website has gone from 9 million visits a day to under one million. Guess what? He’s no longer ‘news.’
The real problem for the people who report the news is that if there’s nothing to report, they have to make something up. And what appears to be the latest made-up narrative on the Democratic side (I don’t really care about the other side) is the idea that there’s this hard-core split between ‘progressives’ and ‘moderates’ which is tearing the Democratic Party apart.
Take a look at an op-ed in The Hill by Bill Press, a no-nonsense liberal opinion-maker if there ever was one. He says that the Democrats are really in trouble because they haven’t gotten their messaging out there about the infrastructure bill they passed. According to Press, “every story’s been about the chaos among House Democrats.”
Wrong Bill. ‘Every story’ happens to be the stories written about the Democrats by pundits and journalists like you who know that discussing infrastructure just doesn’t get everyone interested and doesn’t raise the click-rate the way that a good quote from Alexandra Ocasio-Ortez will light a fire on the internet.
AOC has been in Congress for just short of three years. You would think from the attention she gets whenever she opens her mouth that she was next in line to move into the Oval Office when Joe decides that it’s time to pack up and go home.
The truth is that, in the greater scheme of things, AOC is nobody, even when she makes sure to stick her boobies out whenever a photographer happens to come around. If we were still in the pre-internet age when competition for media presence required at least some connection to a real news event, nobody outside of the 14th Congressional District in New York City would have heard of AOC at all.
And don’t make the mistake of thinking that it’s only Democrats like AOC who have been taking advantage of how the incessant thirst of social media for content has changed the whole definition of news. There’s a first-term Republican State Senator in Arizona, Wendy Rogers, who has been tirelessly promoting the election ‘fraud’ nonsense and plans to appear at rallies and political events in every, single state this year.
We now have a communications infrastructure which is totally driven by what political figures want to say about themselves. They can put up a website and a Facebook page, start a Twitter account and get in front of thousands of viewers for a few hundred bucks every month. And increasingly, this is how more and more Americans get their political news.
And if they run out of things to say about themselves, public figures can always count on the Fake News media to describe every political issue in the starkest, most dire terms. Just today, CNN ran a story about Joe taking a victory lap for his infrastructure bill, which they claimed was a welcome respite from his “problem-plagued” Presidency.
Exactly what problems are they talking about? The fact that after Trump did absolutely nothing to respond to the Pandemic, that more than 60% of all Americans have gotten both their shots? Or maybe they’re referring to the horrible inflation which has driven the stock market to its highest level of all time and reduced unemployment to the point that nobody is even looking for a job.
Oh, I forgot. We have the ‘supply chain’ crisis, with all the crap that’s usually sitting on store shelves before Black Friday now sitting in containers in various East and West Coast ports. Things are so bad, and everyone is so depressed, that AAA is predicting a 13% increase in Thanksgiving travel, which will bring the number of Americans hitting the road or going through airport security screens back to the travel numbers before the onset of the kung flu.
I mention the racist phrase ‘kung flu’ to remind my readers that when Trump was President, the Fake News media didn’t have to worry about coming up with news. All they had to do was wait for Trump to tweet something patently offensive or racist or stupid and they had a headline each and every day.
The 46th President, on the other hand, is a different breed of cat. If anything, he’s something of a bore and boring doesn’t equal clicks.