There have been many political moments in the last few years that made me wonder if a time traveler had accidentally stepped on a butterfly somewhere and that human history had gone way off course.
In fact, it’s hard to pick just one story in 2022 that represents the depth of insanity in modern American politics. Everyday political developments make Mike Judge seem positively prophetic of his 17-year-old co-author, “Idiocracy.” Everyone, from Donald J. Trump unveiling a new NFT trading card to Michelle Fiore’s appointment as a magistrate after her failed (and scandal-prone) run for state treasurer There was no shortage of headlines to match what could be written. Parody.
However, the current timeline isn’t the result of a time-traveling DeLorean misguided trip. In fact, it’s very real and unlikely to get any stranger in the next year.
Far from readjusting towards a more stable ‘normal’, modern politics has long pushed towards the outer boundaries of absurdity. The 24-hour news cycle, social media, and an obsessive political class have pushed the boundaries of acceptable discourse outside of the norm.
But our current political culture is not solely to blame for political pundits, politicians, or “infotainment” cable news networks trying to sell their grievances. After all, the cultic partisan grandstands that dominate (and pervert) our political discourse are clearly in high demand by much of the news-consuming public. We, as consumers of news and political drama, have created quite a market for such nonsense.
For many people, the politicization of everything has become integral to their personal identity, increasing the demand for outrageous (and often petty) political controversies. Virtue-showing progressives, for example, believe that Tesla, once lauded as a powerful way to show dedication to environmentalism, is ostensibly as much of a 2016 red trucker hat as his I’m starting to lament the fact that it’s become something that represents MAGA. Among the political left there is often a fuss about “cancelling culture” and a relentless obsession with the need to boycott and punish Disney for acquiescing to the “woke mob”.
In fact, the politicization of nearly every aspect of our life has become depressingly normalized, giving our culture a decidedly unfree and contemptuous streak. It has created loyalty to cultic parties and a form of hero worship among the most vocal and outspoken members of the party base.
Trump’s introduction of NFT trading cards may be hard to counter, but even before the MAGA era, the zeal to indulge and idolize politicians seen as potential vessels for political change was on both sides. Pundits, fanatics, and even ordinary party members became eager to deal with “friendly” politicians like superstars and rock stars, and cast the leaders of the opposition as Stalinists. and denounced as Hitler’s doppelganger.
As a result, politics has become a spectacle between competing personalities rather than a substantive debate about policy preferences. Is it any wonder that when we turn to competitors, our political environment has become more akin to professional wrestling than Greek philosophical debates?
Thankfully, the market for ridiculous political activism like this seems to be shrinking. After all, independent voters are on the rise — and the apparently large number of split tickets in the last election suggests that voters are encouraged to adopt a team-driven approach that fosters such hero-worship in modern politics. It shows that you are willing to break away from.
The rise of independent voters certainly seems to be the phenomenon Republicans were unprepared for in 2022. Indeed, media companies that have built successful business models on selling such outrage have recently found themselves forced to lay off employees as subscribers dwindle. Even controversial online hubs are losing users at an alarming pace.
In short, there seems to be a growing apathy towards partisan politics among more and more Americans — and that’s probably true for those of us wondering where things “went wrong” in the public discourse. It is the blessing of
This is not to say that there are no political struggles worth paying attention to or that there are certain causes that are not worth investing in. It continues to supply the market incentives that have led us to a world of politics where absurdity is increasingly the norm. As consumers and voters of news, we must recognize that . we lead the market. Politics go where we say.
In other words, the madness of modern politics does not disappear overnight. Be careful not to step on any more butterflies. The timeline is off course enough as it is.
Michael Schhaus is a communications and branding professional based in Las Vegas, Nevada. Schaus Creative LLC — An agency dedicated to helping organizations, businesses and activists tell their stories and drive change. He has worked as a news director, columnist, political humorist and most recently as director of communications for a public policy think tank, where he has over ten years of experience in the field of public relations commentary. Follow him on SchhausCreative.com or Twitter. @schausmichael.