Dec 27th, 2011
Eric Byler offers a theory after reading Peter Whoriskey's article on the growing wealth gap between our country's elected and its governed:
"Establishing the causal connection between income inequality and political polarization will require further study, the article says. And, I want you to read the entire piece, which includes evocative profiles that humanize eye-popping statistics — i.e., the average wealth of Members of Congress has increased 250% since 1984 while that of the average American family has gone down slightly. But allow me to offer a brief hypothesis:
The disastrous fiscal policies of the past 30 years — which have lavished America’s ruling class with unprecedented riches while hammering our middle class to a degree not seen since the days leading up to the Great Depression — simply would not have been possible without massive doses of political entertainment that have distracted and divided us into either failing to notice or failing to respond.
I've chosen the term "1% Media" for this indescribably vast body of news/entertainment content because it tends to reflect the perspective and, arguably, the agenda of the fortunate few who possess the immense wealth required to produce and disseminate it. During the past three decades, as constant streams of increasingly incendiary soap opera disguised as political commentary, or, worse, "news," have flooded the minds of 1% Media consumers, we have seen our culture, and perhaps the American electorate, transform. Consumers of 1% Media have become reliable voters, and, the most vocal and most malleable advocates for the policies and candidates presented to them on TV and radio. And, we have seen seen Members of Congress openly pander to this audience, not only in their rhetoric but also in their policy positions. They do this, despite their abysmal poll numbers, either because they actually believe in the political soap operas in which they star, or because they fear the entrenched apparatus that writes the script."
I am inclined to agree.