Politics “as usual” is about to change

Just as “the people” are leading sweeping changes in media and other aspects of our culture, so too will they lead significant changes in the political world in the near future. This is the inevitable end of the disconnect that people in the U.S. feel with their government and the political process that put it there.

Time and again, I’m reading how the empowerment of people is the central theme of technological advancements. As Joe Trippi said a couple of years ago, “If information is power, then the Internet, which distributes information democratically to anyone who has access to it, is no longer distributing just information — it’s distributing power. And in a top-down society, it’s empowering the bottom. Put more simply–in America, it’s empowering the American people.”

In my essay, Chaos at the Door, I wrote of what that power is doing to all of us.

And the paradox of power is that discontent increases with opportunities for acting on it. The more the bottom is given the tools to make and distribute their own media, the greater their power; the greater their power, the greater their discontent and, along with it, the opportunity for acting on that discontent. This bubbling caldron of energy is profoundly anti-elitist and anti-institution, because the more the bottom surveys the landscape these days, the more they realize that our culture has failed them, and this energy is palpable in the halls of power.
Now comes the latest Harris Poll with what I think is an interesting finding about how people feel about our government. The survey sought job approval ratings on a whole list of elected and appointed officials. The headline has been that the President’s approval rating continues to drop, but here’s what caught my eye:
“And how would you rate the job Republicans in Congress are doing — excellent, pretty good, only fair or poor?”
Date Positive Negative
March 2006 % 27 68
“And how would you rate the job Democrats in Congress are doing — excellent, pretty good, only fair or poor?”
March 2006 % 24 70
Clearly, neither option in the political landscape is viewed with any degree of warm fuzzies by the public. This is what our political process has given us, and I don’t think an empowered electorate is going to stand for it much longer.

I’m a lifelong Democrat, but the Democratic Party doesn’t represent me in any way, shape or form. As I’ve written previously, my father wouldn’t recognize the party he supported his whole life. My mother is disgusted with both sides in our two-sided world, and the Harris Poll numbers show that she’s not alone.

So what’s going to happen? Will we see the rise of independents or a third party? Neither would surprise me. Look at what happened in South Korea when a motivated citizenry got involved.

Throughout this blog and my essays, I’ve tried to point to a direct connection between the “professional” press and the contemporary political process. Their relationship is more than symbiotic, for it’s hard to tell which is the host. Suffice it to say that one cannot exist without the other, and that’s why it’s so clear to me that we’re on the verge of something significant politically in the U.S. If it follows the media pattern, it’ll rise up from the bottom and, more importantly, it won’t give a rat’s ass about the status quo.

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