American Culture

In wake of #SCOTUSnom, political warfare beckons. We’ll all be losers in the end.

If your taste in politics runs toward the hardball, then you’re about to be sated.

President Obama today nominated the chief judge of the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit for the Supreme Court vacancy created by the death of Antonin Scalia.

The war over the nomination, simmering for months, now begins in earnest. Let loose the dogs hellbent on partisan dominion. Here’s a lede to a New York Times story by Eric Lipton:

WASHINGTON — More than 100 protest rallies have been scheduled in key electoral states like Ohio, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Wisconsin, New Hampshire and Iowa. Television advertisements are being scripted. Twitter and Facebook campaigns are rolling out, and email blasts are filling up inboxes.

scotusnomAh. Social media. The first Supreme Court nomination to be contested on teenagers’ traditional turf. Oh, joy.

For the past year, the nation’s newspapers and cable and broadcast news outlets have fed the electorate with a steady of diet of “he said, she said” — or has it been more like “that bastard said, that bitch said” — and horse-race punditry. The biggest sinners, of course, are the broadcasters. The political ads have enriched them — to the tune of billions of dollars. The relentless coverage of presidential debates — now repurposed as who can outshout and out-insult whom — has done nothing to credibly inform the electorate.

Now that the #SCOTUSnom fight is on, that ad spending will only increase to unheard-of levels beyond that of a mere presidential election cycle.

But the bigger, more painful social and cultural costs will be the reduction of meaningful information anywhere about anything else in mainsteam or social media. There isn’t conversational room for anything else beyond Will it be Trump? or Will the GOP consider the #SCOTUSnom? There will be no mediated room left for climate change, infrastructure crises, educational reforms, extrication of Americans from war zones, closing Guantánamo, defense spending — name your hot button, and you won’t see it for months. Hell, Taylor Swift will have trouble getting media time.

The massive wave of political advertising and special-interest lobbying between now and November will produce a public discourse devoid of common sense, compromise, and civility.

The nation will be cheapened by it, weakened by it, and belittled by other nations for it.

As individuals, as the onslaught mounts, we should be asking: “This is how democracy works? Really?”

Let the clusterfuck begin.

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