The Conversation

Culture, like B.S., rolls downhill

In response to Running out the clock with Obama / Satan BS:

If you'll pardon the pun, let me play devil's advocate for a moment here, David.  Whenever conservatives pay attention to a cultural controversy, there are fears that we'll become "distracted" by taking notice of it.  I tend to think people can walk and chew gum at the same time.  A conservative who did nothing but bang out ObamaSatan posts (or make fun of the ObamaSatan obsessives on Twitter) would be falling under your diagnosis of distraction, but I haven't seen it becoming such a myopic focal point for too many people.

And we must always remember that politics lies downstream of culture.  Not coincidentally, both culture and B.S. flow downhill.  Remember back during the 2012 campaign, when so many of us were having a laugh at liberals frittering away their time on ridiculous crap like the Muppets and "binders full of women?"  We wondered how in the world anyone could be distracted from the deadly serious issues facing the nation by such ephemera.  How big did Big Bird have to be, in order to hide Barack Obama's unemployment rate?

How did that all work out for everyone?  Ah, yes: we're stuck with the same President and roughly the same unemployment rate, living in a New Normal where we're all supposed to cheer like drunk football fans because unemployment ticks down to 7.7% as another hundred thousand people leave the workforce entirely, and it turns out the last quarter's GDP grew at 0.1% instead of contracting by 0.1%.  Yay revisions!

Maybe we were over-estimating the intelligence of the electorate... or maybe we were under-estimating the enduring power of culture to ridicule political candidates into untenable positions.  This is a pretty small-potatoes issue, but it seemed worth a moment of engagement - and sometimes it's tough to tell which cultural events are worth how many moments of engagement.  The Left stays plugged into both culture and politics 24/7/365; we need to master the art of doing the same.  

And sadly, as for clocks running down, I'm most worried about the fiscal alarm clocks that folks like John Boehner suddenly seem to have a hard time hearing.  I don't know how we get his attention, but I wonder if sufficient cultural engagement to build the kind of popular support he can't ignore might not be part of a successful strategy.


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