Monday, November 21, 2011

Freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose

Of course, I don't agree with every single thing David Frum says in this heart-wrenching plea to the GOP but he does make a couple of points worth noting.

Extremism and conflict make for bad politics but great TV. Over the past two decades, conservatism has evolved from a political philosophy into a market segment. An industry has grown up to serve that segment—and its stars have become the true thought leaders of the conservative world. The business model of the conservative media is built on two elements: provoking the audience into a fever of indignation (to keep them watching) and fomenting mistrust of all other information sources (so that they never change the channel). As a commercial proposition, this model has worked brilliantly in the Obama era. As journalism, not so much. As a tool of political mobilization, it backfires, by inciting followers to the point at which they force leaders into confrontations where everybody loses, like the summertime showdown over the debt ceiling.

But the thought leaders on talk radio and Fox do more than shape opinion. Backed by their own wing of the book-publishing industry and supported by think tanks that increasingly function as public-relations agencies, conservatives have built a whole alternative knowledge system, with its own facts, its own history, its own laws of economics. ...

In the aftershock of 2008, large numbers of Americans feel exploited and abused. Rather than workable solutions, my party is offering low taxes for the currently rich and high spending for the currently old, to be followed by who-knows-what and who-the-hell-cares. This isn’t conservatism; it’s a going-out-of-business sale for the baby-boom generation.
Frum fails to note this has been the master plan for decades. Only now do the Republicans feel safe in stating it overtly since they've succeeded so well in supplanting the concept of fellow Americans against the evils of the world with a firmly wedged partisan divide that pits Americans versus the evils within. Which is now defined as anybody who doesn't agree with them. And it doesn't hurt that they built a full fledged media appartus in the interim that not only excuses their obstructionism, it celebrates and reveres it.

Ironically, Frum is free to make these points because he has been banished from the hallowed halls of "true conservatives" for daring to challenge the agreed upon narrative in the first place. Sadly, for the same reason, none of them will listen to him.

[More posts daily at the Detroit News.]

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Blogger Kevin McKague said...

Over the past two decades, conservatism has evolved from a political philosophy into a market segment.

This idea has been on my mind a lot lately.
The main goal of right-wing media has been to solidify it's audience, not necessarily to change anyone's minds. They tell their audience what they are already predisposed to believe, just as a McDonald's manager makes sure his burgers are the same every day. This is good business, but it was a mistake for anyone to believe that it could grow a voter base indefinately.

Right-wing media has done this, all that Frum mentions, to the GOP. They have over-played their hand, and convinced their audience that the world is ready for all of these misinformed ideas of theirs. Not only aren't most people buying it, but a growing number are being awaken from their apathetic stupor to openly, and loudly, reject it.

The problem for them is, that there aren't enough FOX viewers and Ditto-heads to carry a presidential year election, and all of those Koch dollars don't vote.

Frum can only hope that the Fox bubble will soon pop, so he and other sane Republicans can get their party back.

11:53:00 AM  

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