Discover more from The Freemen News-Letter
The Car Wreck of American Politics
We complain about the wreckage strewn across the highway of American political culture, but we're the ones slamming the breaks to take a look and causing the traffic jam.
There are probably very few people who hop into their car every morning with the desire to witness a fatal car accident. But, when the opportunity arises, we cannot resist the rubbernecking instinct. We slow down, quickly scanning to witness any detail we can. Perhaps it’s a survival instinct. I flunked psychology in high school (attendance was required), but I did manage to pass the Advanced Placement test—though I admit, I can’t remember any of it.
I recall the lyrics of a Tool song, Vicarious:
Eye on the TV, 'cause tragedy thrills me
Whatever flavor it happens to be like
"Killed by the husband"
"Drowned by the ocean"
"Shot by his own son"
"She used the poison in his tea"
"Then kissed him goodbye"
That's my kind of story
It's no fun 'til someone dies
American politics has become eerily similar. We tell the pollsters that the drama, rhetoric, and extremism are all too much, but when the battle lines are drawn and blood is spilled, we’re more than willing to pick a team and cheer. We’re junkies for outrage. We’re addicted to the sport.
And it’s not as if we’re having impassioned debates on policy and principle when it’s time to get serious. Even then, we’ve devoted ourselves to the personalities, to the spectacle.
CNN did a poll earlier this year that found that 31% of Americans preferred neither Joe Biden or Donald Trump. That stands in contrast to 5% who preferred neither in 2020 or the 3% who didn’t want either Romney or Obama in 2016.
But, we all know how this story ends. If 2020 brings us a Trump v. Biden rematch, can we expect nearly a third of our nation to say “enough” and send their vote elsewhere? Doubtful. Instead, we’ll complain about the system being the problem.
He got re-elected again? “We need term limits!”
She's still serving? “We need an age limit!”
That person won? “Time to limit campaign contributions!”
The system can always be refined, but at the end of the day, your vote is your own. There is no amount of Russian Facebook ads that can be thrust upon you to prevent you from voting how you see fit. Geriatric candidates have no superpower that automatically switches votes in their favor. The X (formerly Twitter) follower counts of bomb throwers, fearmongers, and extremists have zero effect on how the votes are counted on election night.
Our politicians have become soundbite machines, and our media has become a nonstop tornado siren because it works. People continue to watch, subscribe, donate, and vote accordingly.
Demand better. Stop rubbernecking. The quick hit we get from the drug of outrage is detrimental to the long-term health of the Republic. This game ends when the spectators stop filling the stadium.
Sage Naumann is a Colorado-based conservative strategist, commentator, and columnist. He is also a monthly columnist with the Denver Gazette, Colorado Springs Gazette, and Colorado Politics. @SageNaumann
The Daily Saucer is our place for freelance contributors and editorial staff to offer short takes on the news cycle, quick observations on the issues, and brief thoughts on broader topics. The views offered in this space reflect only the personal views of the authors.