Please do not attempt to deduce my political affiliation from the writing below. My only argument is my argument and not some other argument. Any hints one way or another are just going to lead you down a road with two wrong ways. As the cool people would most likely say, "just sayin'."
Now that the disclaimer is out of the way, I can get down to business.
Pardon my vagueness and generalities, but the United States of America is a "personal" culture and "safe" culture. To clean up any ambiguity, I will be using these two definitions:
"personal": driven by feeling(s).
Example: Dude, I feel like Jordan's gonna pull off a miracle. I just know it. (Nobody without a time machine knows it.)
"safe": less risk taking to better control the outcome of life.
Example: I didn't go skydiving, because I didn't want to get a faulty 'chute and die. (Plus, I can just watch skydiving on TV!)
So, personal and safe. For the most part, it seems, people live this way. You may be reading this and saying "Yo! I just went skydiving last Saturday!" I'm gonna take a guess and say you're in the minority.
Let's start with personal. Some stats:
- In 2011, NY-based research firm Initiative estimated that 111 million people watched the SuperBowl.
- Congress.org states that President Bill Clinton's 1993 State of the Union was the most watched SotU at 67 million people (~60% of SuperBowl viewers).
- According to CSPAN, on May 5, 2011, the most-watched-on-youtube Obama speech was his roast of Donald Trump at 6,767,476. At the time, the second-most watched was just behind at 6,763,245, which was his speech on race in Philly. The difference seems minute, until you take into account that the Philly/race speech had been up for three years versus the Trump Roast's measely four days. The numbers now stand at 6.8 million and 8.8 million, respectively.
Now, generalizing about the state of our nation's "giving a shit" pertaining to certain topics, it seems safe for me to assume that if people had to choose between watching something involving feeling (Trump Roast, SuperBowl) versus watching something that pertains to our nation's future (SotU), we'll take nachos and pigskin any day. The SuperBowl is way up on the tippy-top of Maslow's heirarchy of needs (it's creativity; but you can also argue that it falls as low as Love/Belonging), but we, as a nation, feel it is more important than the words of a man who basically has every important aspect of our lives in his hands (everything in the red and yellow). The SuperBowl cannot take us to war.
So then what do feelings have to do with politics?
Everything apparently, because it's statistically more important than politics. So, if politics is the science of getting people to like you, then hitting you exactly where you're most passionate is exactly how politicians will get their asses re-elected.
Chuck Klosterman says it best:
"If the president tells a reporter your TV show is his favorite, it's de facto political, regardless of the premise or the creator's original intent. Barack Obama's loving The Wire is a little like Amy Carter adding the Sex Pistols to the White House music library — it shouldn't mean anything, but of course it does. Whenever a president (or even a senator) is asked about what they like to watch on television, they know their answer will be perceived as symbolic of who they are and what they represent. This is why there will never be a modern U.S. President who will not define himself as a sports fan."
Now since politics is driven by the want to change our feelings, the best political campaigns will hit us where it hurts the most - our perceived safety. And I stress the word "perceived." You hear of plenty of people scared of flying but not scared of driving. I've never heard of the opposite. This is interesting, because statistically, it's been proven that you're more likely to end up in a car accident versus a plane crash. I mean, this fact alone should absolve all fear of flying (if you have no fear of driving), but it doesn't. Why? "Plane crashes cause 9/11 and it's all over the TV, and I drive a car all the time and I never get hit." It's an interestingly perceived fear.
So how exactly does this perceived fear help the Left?
Because the Left are all about making people safe. They want better money distribution so the less fortunate are more safe. They want better healthcare so that more people's health can be safe. They want to take more of people's taxes in order for the government to create more safety. They create more and more regulations in order to create a safer world.
The Right have a harder time arguing about their ability to keep people safe. They want the wealthy to keep the money they earn, which probably won't make these people any safer really and definitely doesn't make the less fortunate safer. They want less governmental regulations, which definitely doesn't sound safe. They want the market to do a better job of "taking care of itself," which sounds like the opposite of safe. Rely on a market to take care of itself? Preposterous!
In turn, the Left have it easy. They just don't have to fuck up, which is why our nation is moving more and more towards the Left every year. Republican Presidents get elected, sure, but they're always fighting against the "feelings" of the nation. Their arguments don't make people feel safe. Any real attempt for the Right to mess with your feelings is faulty, because it's not really at the heart of what individual people need to survive right now. But, if we were talking about collective survival of humanity as a whole, they may have the ability to dropkick people's feelings into submission, explaining that if everybody gets everything they need, soon we won't have anything left for anybody. The problem for the Right is, is that we live in a culture of "now." We don't care about Susie-five-generations-from-now and her soon-to-be overpopulated existence. We care about whether grandma is going to be able to pay her insurance next week.
In conclusion, I don't think our feeling for "feelings" will change unless there's an Armageddon. When comets start hitting the Earth and food supplies start to run dry, everybody is going to be looking out for number one. People won't have feelings. They'll just eat or be eaten. You won't have to worry about health insurance; you'll have to worry about your actual health. Then, surely, a Right way of life would inherently rule all. If you barely have enough to eat, but it's more than everybody else, you're gonna keep that for you and your family. You may think so otherwise, but animalistic instincts are always the last line of defense.
So, I guess the most fun part of reading my essay would be finding out how I personally feel. Unfortunately, I don't think that's a very easy question to answer. For example, our nation's food source is getting worse and worse:
The Right would say: Only people that make enough money can eat the food. We need to stop handing out food. It will leave us with nothing in the end. Add more chemicals to create bigger food, a larger supply of food, and more profitable food. Let's make organic food too and charge a ton! Quality issue somewhat solved.
The Left would say: Everybody needs to get food. Let's slowly gather up money from the rich and create a better food source. Sub-par food will be created, and we'll make sure that everybody chooses this type of food or they have to pay even more. Quantity issue somewhat solved.
The answer isn't really there, is it? Unless we somehow combine the two, they both seem to have their limitations. And combining the two might make a really inadequate and jumbled system full of lies and deceit and then... Now that I think about it, an organic, grass fed pork sandwich and veggie spread would go over pretty well at next year's SuperBowl party! Alright, who cares about politics?! Let's get this lockout over-with!