I've been trying all day to think of what my last post(s) of 2009 should be about, and coming up with nothing. It's been a crazy (couple of?) year(s). Yesterday on KVNU FTP, Tyler, Jon and I discussed the ways politics have changed over the past decade. Some feel things are too polarized now. Some feel there isn't enough honest debate. Some (me!) feel that the electorate is still too complacent and uninvolved in a very important aspect of all of our lives.
But one thing seems to be a constant in all of the year end and decade end recaps populating the Tubes the past week: everything is always changing. I think these final paragraphs of Aught 9 from UDP Executive Director Todd Taylor are perfectly put:
Meanwhile on the campaign front: a decade ago no one had heard of Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, ActBlue, Constant Contact, Google blasts; McCain-Feingold hadn’t upended federal campaign financing; there was still some local news media on radio and television that was allowed to cover politics and help us get to know the candidate and our choices; mail and telephone were the kings of local elections; and, while we all paid lip-service to door to door canvassing Gerber and Green hadn’t proved its effectiveness. In fact, we all thought that voters made rational decisions instead of undergoing different “heursuitics” and other neurological process and emotional connections as identified by microtargeting.For triumph or tragedy, indeed.
It is a marvel that the most popular television program of the decade was “American Idol” and, yet, a local version like Eugene Jelesnick's “Talent Showcase” would never be considered for airtime. There is no room for local heroes anymore. The loss of local celebrity has hurt the political world as much as any other endeavor. It continued its long decline to the point where over 50% of Utahns couldn’t tell you the name of the Governor when he was recently inaugurated. Fewer than 10% can name either of their state legislators, and even the professional politicians can’t name their school board representative. I doubt more than 3% could name just one member of the State Supreme Court. So, here’s to Ed and Elizabeth Smart, David Archuleta and Ken Jennings! At least Utahns got to know someone local during the past decade whether for triumph or tragedy.
If I could only wish for one thing for the politics of 2010 and beyond, it would be the implementation and adoption of new avenues of information by both elected officials and voters, for a better informed and engaged public.
As a backup wish, I want to see the media bitch-slap anyone blatantly full of shit (Sarah!) or making something up (Death panels!) rather than feed it with vague coverage.
And as a backup to the backup, I want to see Newt Gingrich take a hockey puck to the groin. Televised.
That said, I think the current state of politics -- though frustrating on many levels -- is headed in an encouraging direction. I think it just might be possible that the "gap" defined in Taylor's post can be overcome. Or at least shrunk.
And Todd... Chief Justice Christine Durham. I didn't even have to Google it.
Here's to 2010.
(Read the entirety of Todd's decade review here)