Blog Credo

The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.

H.L. Mencken

Thursday, August 6, 2015

The Perpetual Outrage Culture

Vox has a piece that notices that Jon Stewart's most frequent guests were overwhelmingly white men.

In an even-handed analysis, they wonder if this is a reflection of racism and sexism on the Daily Show or America in general.  It seems pretty clear that it's a reflection of America in general.  Of the 20 most frequent guests, only two were female: Maggie Gyllenhaal and Sarah Vowell.  I'm not sure why Gyllenhaal was a frequent guest, but Vowell is a political humorist. Most of the frequent guests were politicians (Bob Dole, John McCain, Bill Clinton and Mike Huckabee) or political commentators and journalists (Fareed Zakaria, Tom Browkaw, Bill O'Reilly, Reza Aslan, and Brian Williams).  And of course, you had actors doing pre-film publicity (Will Ferrell, Adam Sandler, Paul Rudd and Ben Affleck).

So, yeah, there are a lot of white guys doing politics and film and that shows up in TDS' guest list.

But the outrage culture we live in will no doubt see this as somehow Stewart's fault.  Even though Stewart was probably most responsible for making Malala Youseff a household name and Samantha Bee was - along with Stephen Colbert - the best TDS correspondent in its history.

One of the hallmarks of Outrage Culture - on the Left and the Right - is that it tends towards cannibalism.  Activists with an ax to grind tend to grind it on those nearest them.  And that makes a certain amount of sense.  #blacklivesmatter are going to get a more sympathetic hearing from Bernie Sanders and Marty O'Malley even if those two guys pooched their response at Netroots Nation.  Anti-immigration Tea Partiers know that Hillary Clinton isn't going to listen to them.

But it's still frustrating to see the sort of Circular Firing Squads that Outrage Culture creates.

And Donald Trump is the logical endpoint.  Right wing outrage culture really blossomed 6 years ago during Obamacare Summer in 2009.  The left wing equivalent is a few years behind, but catching up rapidly.  And Trump is the candidate of the Right Wing Spleen.  He is its inarticulate articulation.

I worry about the Balkinization of the Left because that is what led to the rise of Reagan.  When working class whites turned on poor blacks in the '70s, that was the end of the New Deal Coalition.  The collapse of the Reagan Coalition - theocratic conservatives, Wall Street and Southerners - is an ongoing phenomenon and Obama realizes that he has an opportunity to reframe the terms of America's political debate.

But not if his coalition begins to tear each other apart.

No comments: