Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Weak Tea, part five, addendum

Thomas L. Friedman's column today in the Times is worth a read.  It relates to an idea I was trying to develop in yesterday's post: the people as a unity, not just an aggregation.

Toward the end, he lists a number of factors that have changed American politics, allowing noisy and unthinking fringe groups on all sides to overwhelm the ingenious checks and balances of the system set down in the Constitution and make it difficult, if not impossible, to do anything at all for the common good:

Those factors are: the wild excess of money in politics; the gerrymandering of political districts, making them permanently Republican or Democratic and erasing the political middle; a 24/7 cable news cycle that makes all politics a daily battle of tactics that overwhelm strategic thinking; and a blogosphere that at its best enriches our debates, adding new checks on the establishment, and at its worst coarsens our debates to a whole new level, giving a new power to anonymous slanderers to send lies around the world. Finally, on top of it all, we now have a permanent presidential campaign that encourages all partisanship, all the time among our leading politicians.

I would argue that together these changes add up to a difference of degree that is a difference in kind — a different kind of American political scene that makes me wonder whether we can seriously discuss serious issues any longer and make decisions on the basis of the national interest.
So, who's up for some serious discussion?

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