Last week at Christianity Today, I wrote about political dramas (with special attention to Scandal and Madam Secretary), and what they teach us, and why it matters:
It’s important to note the bent of our political shows, because not only do they say interesting things about our national psyche, but they shape that psyche. They shape how we approach our engagement with politics. They shape our future as a society governed by the people. And they shape it far more tellingly than any speech or reasoned political argument.
The philosopher Charles Taylor identifies one of the “pathologies,” or sicknesses, of the modern age as being a sort of tyranny of indifference. That is, the modern focus on individuals is all well and good, and it has done positive things for us (an emphasis on the dignity of each human, for instance). But when we turn too inward, when we don’t balance this emphasis with a recognition of how important the fabric of society is, we can end up with the tyranny that results when individual people become too apathetic to bother voting or being involved with politics.
And let’s be honest, we Americans don’t vote much as a people. When we do it, it practically acts like an American Idol episode: we vote for president (well, just over half of us do), because it’s a Media Event, but we rarely vote in state or municipal politics unless our personal interests are at stake (my taxes, my budget, my land). And we have the overwhelming sense that not only does it not really matter, but that my life won’t be all that affected. Following Foucault: history is just the exchange of power.