Sarah Palin, Rush Limbaugh and the politics of stupid

roflbot0327141You know who talks about Sarah Palin and Rush Limbaugh far more than Fox News or even Sarah Palin herself? Who jumps on the stupid remarks made by Fox News pundits and broadcasts on every social media site and on our TV sets on a daily basis? That would be us, the liberal media. Whether mainstream or alternative, the liberal media positively loves every dumb tweet, every verbal slip and borderline racist comment made by conservative talk show hosts and political celebrities alike. And guess what? The conservative media, mainstream or even the most bizarre rightwing blog sites, loves each and every one of the slip ups on the left as well.

So why is it that we’re more likely to hear about Sarah Palin’s new reality show than current legislation on Capitol Hill? Why is Facebook full of videos and links about the latest misogynistic remarks made by Rush Limbaugh or the most recent insane ramblings by Pat Robertson? The answer is that all of this sells far better than factual analysis of actual political issues or the latest Supreme Court case on the docket. We have mostly replaced smart political discussion with low information political entertainment news. With the exception of a few people like Rachel Maddow, we are now awash in a sea of TV shows and websites that resemble tabloids and celebrity gossip like “Inside Edition.”

How did we get here? Why does our national political discussion seem like the front page of the National Enquirer mixed with a cage of angry, feces hurling baboons? The answer is us. We made it this way and we can blame the media all we want but at the end of the day, the blame really lays at our collective feet.

We as consumers dictate with our money or our web traffic what a company produces. If you’re sick and tired of rubbish like “25 Celebrity Side Boobs, You’ll Never Guess Who #10 Is!” on Huffington Post or other sites, don’t click on them. Don’t read them, don’t comment on them, don’t like them and absolutely don’t share them. If you’re a Reddit user, downvote it and upvote quality content instead. If quality articles get more attention, then the media will recognize that and try to meet that demand.

In a previous article, I wrote the following:

There are far too many people who know every contestant on a reality show but cannot name their elected officials, let alone find the country they want to bomb into oblivion on the map. These are people who cannot tell the difference between a Sikh and a Muslim, let alone between a Sunni and a Shiite. These people are a couple of generations almost completely removed from the reality of the world the rest of us live in. The History Channel has gone from programs based on actual history to staged reality shows and Ancient Aliens. The Learning Channel has rotted away from being a channel based on actual learning to Honey Boo Boo…

Somehow we’ve gone from America the Beautiful to America the WTF. We’ve gone from the land of the free and home of the brave to the land of Honey Boo Boo, monster trucks, jingoistic patriotism, and supersized servings of stupid with the politicians to prove it.

And so if we as Americans actually want to see a better political dialogue going forward, we’re going to have to demand it, both as consumers and voters. We will have to accept the fact that all the petitions in the world will not cause political celebrities who have zero interest in holding office to go away, nor will it persuade the media to stop covering fake scandals such as last year’s insanely stupid controversy over “Duck Dynasty.” Only by giving minimal attention to political stunts and gossip will we have a better political system. We need to talk more about Elizabeth Warren and less about Sarah Palin, we need to pay more attention to Bernie Sanders and less to Donald Trump. This is the only way it’s going to get better.


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