Election '12: Dumbing Democracy Down

And audiences aren't looking for complex answers; they're looking for amusement.

Nowadays, a successful political candidate says less and less, but polishes and massages the spin more than ever before. A single crack in the carefully constructed façade of absolute competence can doom one to failure—think of Rick Perry's recent entry in the "Most Awkward TV Moment of All Time" contest. Was it a substantive error that signaled a dangerous inability? Or was he doomed by the simple fact that he "looked bad?"

Our demand for perfectly polished, error-free candidates is pushing a certain kind of person to the top of the political pile and dooming us to exactly the sort of grifters we can't afford: photogenic, political "lifers" beholden to polls and focus-groups. As Postman foresaw years ago, the politicians of today are feeding us pablum. And they're doing it because we have placed them in a lightning-fast, whirlwind theater that rewards (nay, demands) a pithy soundbite above all else.

Sadly, "short, sweet and devastating" may bring political might. But it is rarely synonymous with "right."

In the Loop is available through Netflix's Streaming Instantly feature. A word of warning, however: a strong stomach for profanity is an absolute prerequisite for enjoying this film. Really strong. Like "Quentin Tarantino"-level strong. That Malcolm Tucker is a piece of work.

1/17/2012 5:00:00 AM
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  • Joseph Susanka
    About Joseph Susanka
    Joseph Susanka has been doing development work for institutions of Catholic higher education since his graduation from Thomas Aquinas College in 1999. He blogs at Crisis Magazine, where he also contributes feature articles on a variety of topics.