BBC correspondent Justin Webb writes a blistering account of the waywardness of American Democrats.
Democrats do not have a message on the key issues of our time. Or, more precisely, they have several mutually exclusive messages….
From World War II until the Reagan revolution the establishment in the US was socially progressive. There was a belief that there was such a thing as society, and its ills could and should be tackled. Now, there are plenty of Americans who still hold those views, but the arteries which once fed them into the nation’s vital organs, have been clogged or cut.
The universities do not have the power they did, professorial authority is less respected.
Most importantly, the worlds of entertainment and news (which used to pipe a vaguely left-wing message into the nation’s homes) have been blown to bits by technological changes which render them powerless.
There are 600 channels on my television. I never watch any of them.
But if I did the chances that my neighbour has watched the same thing (particularly when you add the broadband internet options now available) have shrunk to virtually nil in the past few years.
The Democrats need a message and a new way of communicating that message to a mass audience. They have neither.
We can debate the fate of the Democrats — and after the Bush Administration is finished with them, the fate of the Republicans, too. I’d say that the two parties today look about as fit and just as happy together as Time Warner and AOL.
: But what I find particularly interesting about Webb’s argument is his contention that that the internet’s fracturing of the media industry has a direct impact on the left. Oh, sure, some will say that’s because the left owned Hollywood and Sixth Avenue, but let’s get past that obvious old saw and ask the better question: Has the left, indeed, had a necessary dependence on media? Hmmm. I’d say that the rise of the right via Fox News would be evidence to the contrary.
But perhaps it’s not the use or control of the media but, instead, the appropriateness of the message for the medium of the time. Cue McLuhan.
Broadcasting — sermonizing — to the masses was, then, inherently liberal.
Narrowcasting — ranting — on cable is better for the conservatives.
But what about the internet? It’s tailor-made for the libertarians. The internet is the embodiment of individual liberty, the great product and celebration of freedom.
When blogs started, I wondered why so many bloggers seemed to be libertarian, why they gathered in this medium in apparently disproportionate numbers. That’s obvious to me now. They have found their home. They have the message and the medium for it. But they’re just as disorganized as the Democrats and the Republicans. It’s not just about Democratic disarray. It’s about a benign anarchy sweeping the politics of the land. [via Francis Turner, the Olive Tree]