Saturday, August 25, 2012

Pair of Political Posts

I’ve mildly enjoyed watching the political arguments this election season. Luckily California isn’t a swing state so I haven't had to endure the commercials, which a definitely think are the worst of it. But I see a couple of different levels of conversation going on. The most obvious is The Wrong side Absolutely must not Win. If you click through and read the article and can’t tell whether it is arguing for Republicans or Democrats, that’s the point. At the level of the political operatives trying to win this election the basic strategy and concerns are pretty much the same, just with different quotes or “issues” used as set decoration. And looking at that level could get pretty depressing.
            But Amazon has come up with a clever map that symbolizes, to me, a deeper level of the conversation. I don’t think this map is a good tool for predicting the coming election or even of the general long term trend. (Afterall, one of the books Amazon considers blue, which happens to be my favorite book of the year, I would consider neutral.) But it does give a qualitative look at people engaging with ideas, not being harassed to dislike the “wrong side.” Whether they are looking at viewpoints they might want to endorse or trying to understand how others think, they are voluntarily putting down money to read about ideas at length. While in the short term sound bites and television commercials will influence elections, I think the long terms trends of people really engaging with ideas will affect the conversations and determine what future television commercial and sound bites are about.

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