Over the past several weeks, I’ve buried myself in politics – especially the presidential nomination race. I watched two over crowded Republican debates, a democratic debate, Clinton’s Benghazi testimony, and tens of interviews with Bernie Sanders. I even drove several hours to a convention in New Hampshire hosted by a new political organization called No Labels. Several of the presidential nominees spoke and answered questions. City and state officials joined in panel discussions about the problems they face and best-of-show solutions. Seriously, check them out – nolabels.org. Based on the little I know of this organization, you should probably join their cause. I cannot say enough good things.
After processing any complex political input, I like to write about it so my friends can be enlightened by my fresh perspective. I could save the world if they all just thought like me, right?….sigh.
I was doing pretty well at condensing hours of debate into a facebook post’s worth of text. And I was starting to get positive, encouraging feedback…..from people besides my mother. But I just can’t do it anymore. I’m afraid I’ve hit a wall. I can’t bare to sit through any more political content. I dove so deep that now I’m drowning in it. OK, maybe that’s too dramatic.
I want to be part of the solution, and I believe that truly understanding the problem – asking the right questions – is the right first step, but it’s overwhelming and exhausting. Plus I’m pretty sure I’ve lost some “friends” because of how political I can be.
How did I get to this point? Being actively engaged in politics is important for a healthy democracy. I can’t become the ambivalent citizen that’s always been so irritating to me in the past. How am I supposed to inspire others to care about the democratic system if I can’t even bother myself?
Turns out, all of the narratives you’re gonna hear on the radio or on TV are so well produced that they’re incredibly consistent from one news channel to the next. And hearing the same thing over and over in the same phrasing is exhausting – like driving on a straight road surrounded by corn in the dark for hours. And yes, I’m the go-to-girl for this task too.
Political messaging evolved this way organically, though. Politicians who stuck to a specific way of discussing their favorite issues were harder to prosecute through the media, and a familiar message sticks with voters better. (disclaimer: I don’t really know what I’m talking about – just guessing) Regardless of the science behind it, the way politicians communicate with voters developed the way it has because it works. A side effect is that only the most engaged citizens pay any attention. The rest of us get too busy.
Maybe you’re thinking to yourself, “Moosette, you are manufacturing a problem for yourself. Stop complaining!” And maybe you’re right. I could just determine my favorite news publisher and stick with ’em. But that would just afford me with a single perspective which would be inherently biased. Nope, that doesn’t work for me.
What about considering multiple news publishers in order to cover all perspectives? Nope, that doesn’t work either because it sounds just as exhausting as being my own political journalist. How do I determine when all perspectives have been covered? That’s effectively impossible.
I think what I need is a collaboration between political journalists, my community, and a yet to be determined black box that crunches the numbers and succinctly tells me the facts and the various ways those facts are interpreted. Pair that analysis with some multimedia clips and I’m set!
Anyone want to help me change how political messages are conveyed? It’ll be a multi-year project and I can offer you no money or benefits. Anyone?….Anyone?