Insults That Build Walls: Holding Politicians and the News Media Accountable
Debating Versus Insulting
When thinking of a political argument, what do you Imagine? Two well informed individuals respectfully sharing the facts that support their argument in a publicly understandable way, or do you imagine two individuals that are representing their constituents in title only and hurling baseless insults at one another? Because I assume that you are a thinking person, I am going to believe that you and many others like you would prefer to hear and see both sides of a topic be given adequate respect and time. While the vast majority of the American populous may desire factual commentary and fair analysis, we are greeted with entertainment news and identity politics which prevent us from not only analyzing the truth of events and the individualsinvolved, but also keeps those that want to be informed confused in a time in which there is more information than we know what to do with. Politicians and news sources regardless of affiliation are focusing much more on their biases or a selected narrative over substantive information and debate. It is always easy to complain about politicians, the American media or both. Instead let us discuss how we can begin to correct this mess.
When direct attacks are made against politicians or those within the news media that have little or nothing to do with their role in society, we are prevented from focusing on the actual events and issues that are taking place in as well as profoundly influencing the world we live in. It would be easy to cite any number of personal attacks made by our media on political representatives and vice versa. While this has always been the case for politicians and media correspondents, we have allowed both parties to focus less on self-accountability and more on “roasting” one another. At the end of almost any late night show within the past month, we are given little more than inflammatory political commentary that may or may not be correct and has little concern for being so. Politicians appear to either strike back in equal fashion or offer complete silence in response. We have allowed identity politics to take hold of our opinions rather than our evaluation of facts.
Role Based Evaluations
I submit a question I was asked not long ago regarding politics that confused me: out of all political candidates who ran this last election cycle, which one would you like to have beer with? I was confused for a moment and honestly had no response. I answered by saying that I would not drink with any of the candidates because that would be an interaction with them personally outside of their political focus. I feel that my answer relates to the overall problem between identity politics and the news media in that we should not evaluate political leaders or media representatives on how we like them personally. Whether or not they are a confirmed good person to drink with has absolutely nothing to do with how they perform within their role in society. If there function is to either lead our society or provide accurate and detailed information, should we not judge the on their ability to follow through? I will offer a much more politically based example.
I enjoyed many of Former President Obama speeches due to his eloquence , clear intellectuality and presentation. With our current President, I find myself cringing often at grammatical errors or what I feel to be unnecessary statements though there is something to be said about his unflinching confidence in the face of an angry news media. Though both presidents are not equal in speaking ability, I choose to evaluate them off of their policy rather than their choice in neckties or use of colloquial speech. I disagreed with a great deal of the policies introduced under President Obama and agree more with policies that have been introduced during our short time under President Trump. Their personalities matter very little to me. I evaluate how they are living up to what I perceived the expectations of their roles to be.
The take away here is simple: we must hold both our news media and politicians accountable for their conduct within their roles and not base our support on aesthetics or “sick burns”. If we can do this, it is my firm belief that over time political commentary will become more substantive and trust worthy rather than the chaotic firestorm it is today. It is our job as consumers of media and policy to evaluate those sources of news and policy on their quality of product. If we do not , we will continue to support a news media and political class that believes that presentation is more important than content. Remember that the individuals that hold these positions in our society were put their by us and work for us.
"It is not he who gains the exact point in dispute who scores most in controversy, but he who has shown the better temper." - Samuel Butler 1835-1902