Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Interview: Joe Gandelman, editor of 'The Moderate Voice', says politics are "no longer about issues"

This is the third of four articles spanning my discussion with Joe Gandelman, chief editor of The Moderate Voice. Read the first and second pieces. 
Story by Joseph Ford Cotto
Tolerance -- at least as far as opposing views are concerned -- is no virtue in contemporary American politics. Perhaps one could stretch this to cover society itself (Read more here)

Joseph Ford Cotto: American politics have become very personal. Disagreements, once theoretical and deemed the stuff of molehills in relationships, are now mountains which divide people in every way imaginable. Why do people take political diversity as the stuff of offense?

Joe Gandelman: Because it's no longer about issues anymore. It's all about political domination and "winning" which means insulting someone who doesn't agree with you or attacking. Again, I believe this is due to our talk radio political culture which now has its ultimate manifestation in the form of one Donald Trump. He's talking radio/conservative entertainment media reflection than the result of reality shows. Policy seems, oh so 20th century, although people parrot policy positions. It's all about being louder, repeating a political mantra over and over (since we KNOW if you just repeat, or insult, or shout over it makes it a fact, or so we seem to be taught).

Our country has descended into the political of political tribalism. These days a Jew marrying a Catholic would be easier to some than a Sean Hannity fan marrying a liberal Democrat. Sean Hannity is Limbaugh Lite in TWO ways.

Narrowcasting and the influence of radio and cable political shows (left and right, I do include MSNBC in this) define the other side as the enemy.  Who ever would think 40 years ago that millions of Americans would spend more than 10 hours a week listening or watching shows which demonized another political party, its leaders or a different ideology? And that those who do the demonizing and work to foster anger to get a demographic to offer advertisers would become millionaires who rent or own they leave their shows calling to repeal Obamacare or call to cut the social safety net.

Consensus is for wusses; compromise means "caving."

Cotto: Mass movements such as Occupy and the Tea Party made quite an impact on the political process. Each was largely a result of the recession and popular anger at government malfeasance. Comprehensively speaking, these movements were not as different from one another as pundits tended to claim. Nonetheless, as time passed, they did not merge together to form a trans-partisan movement supporting economic change and structural adjustments to how Capitol Hill -- along with state houses and city halls -- do business. Why is polarization so strong that it prevents people with important mutual interests from joining forces? 

Gandelman: It's due to the tribal nature of our politics and ideology. Until the later part of the 20th century, mixing of the races was a taboo and huge issue in many parts of the US. The Ds and Rs often don't want to mix and distrust each other, while liberals and conservatives loath each other (and each side KNOWS their perception is correct).

The trending on this does NOT look good. So far at least.
Cotto: What is the biggest way that an increasingly fundamentalist left-right spectrum has impacted America's bipartisan establishment?

Gandelman: It has thinned the ranks of those willing to be seen as bipartisan since that is almost as dirty a word now as "moderate." We see more Profiles in Cowardice in our politics now. Those willing to reach across the aisle and work on solutions have their work cut out for them since compromise is defined now as "caving." This places great constraints on the establishments of both parties.

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