In my free time I like to putter in my home shop. It's basically a wood shop, but I also mess around with plumbing and electronics. My wife wanted to add a light fixture to the fan in our bedroom, something modern or industrial looking. I made this out of a broken halogen floor lamp I found on the street. The lights are now LEDs with a new 12v transformer hidden near the ceiling.
Crucial factors driving the present moment:
- Left-Right spectrum metaphor of politics.
- Normalization of ideological politics.
- Reality that politics is about identity and that ideology is just identity for educated elites from the majority race.
- Postwar monopoly media model of objectivity.
- Watergate-Era conviction that no institutions can be trusted and that job of journalist is to attack them without fear or favor.
- The net result is a media perfectly designed to destroy our faith in government.
- End of media monopolies but asymmetrical maintenance of objective ethics by MSM while new GOP outlets return to normal aligned model of mass media.
- Our idea of what a college education entails and who is qualified has not changed one iota even though education after high school is now needed by every single American in order to be a good citizen and get a good job.
- Instead, we continue to spend more and more on educating the people who are best off while refusing to invest in educating the first-generation college students at our community colleges.
- Non-college whites, meanwhile, read in the news about cases like Fisher v. University of Texas, where in 2013 the Supreme Court upheld affirmative action in college admissions. Non-college whites don't know that public universities aren't helping very many black people. All they know is that their kid can't get into State U.
Google Ngram measuring the use of the phrase "political spectrum" in American English:
Google Ngram for American English use of the phrase "objective journalism":
From an article in Columbia Journalism Review, Rethinking Objectivity:
As a result of all these things, American journalism changed. “Vietnam and Watergate destroyed what I think was a genuine sense that our officials knew more than we did and acted in good faith,” says Anthony Lewis, the former New York Times reporter and columnist.
Leads to a general theory...
My general theory--which I really enjoy working on in comment sections even if I seem like a total ass--is that all these elements of wrongness described above reinforce each other and cause our current political dysfunction, specifically the degenerate state of the Republican Party.
How is it the case that a major political party can have a policy platform limited (as a practical matter outside of judicial appointments) to positions no voters support--lower taxes, less federal regulation, destruction of the welfare state? How is it the case that on one of the foremost issues of the day, our health care system, the Republican Party spent 8 years lying to voters about the way the law works and about their intentions (as demonstrated by the resent demise of the Repeal and Replace the ACA fight)?
It's weird that the GOP is in favor of things no one wants. It's weird that, to get elected, GOP candidates have to straight up lie. It's weird that Donald Trump won the nomination of a major party.
What explains the historic weirdness of the present moment?
Thomas Frank has focused on the culture war. Bernie Bros and the media blame Democrats, but the actual cause is:
1. Civil Rights Act
2. Voting Rights Act
3. Sorting of parties into one with black people and one with racists.
4. Ideological and ethical rules of journalism which strictly and explicitly prohibit journalists from describing or acknowledging 3 above.
5. Rules of journalism which require media to print not the reality of GOP appeal (i.e., party of racists), nor the reality of GOP policy (i.e., party of 1%) but instead merely quotations of the claims made by Democrats to that effect along with the GOP response to such accusations which must be framed, according to the rules of journalism, as equally valid.
6. A political science academy which looks at media framing of two equally valid ideologically opposed parties and says not, "That's stupid," but rather, "I bet I can measure that, plot it on a graph, and get it published in a journal that equates math with science."
7. The most energized rebels to the above, Bernie Bros and the academic left, are required by team rules to swear dogmatic allegiance to the reality of the (stupid) left-right spectrum metaphor and further to the claim that left equals good and right equals bad in all cases and situations.
8. The MSM, staffed by liberal minded Democrats from elite universities, strapped to the mast of objectivity, required to balance both sides, but familiar with only one side, the Democrats, who are (more or less) right about everything, have no choice but to destroy candidates like Al Gore and Hillary Clinton.
Anyway. That's my other hobby.