Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Talk Of The Town

Politicians have always been good at making something an important topic in opinion polls by simply advertizing it as an important topic. After a few months of this advertizing, taram-padam!, the topic is indeed ranked as an important one by voters, and one that they care hugely about. Then a few months later nobody cares about it at all, because the election has passed and there is no more advertising.

This happens around every election cycle. One cycle we worry about health care, another cycle we worry about crime, whatever our actual worries might be. But the current administration has taken this opinion manipulation to new heights. For one thing, it's a continuous process for them. Practically everything we talk about has been preselected by the wingnut think-tanks.

Remember last spring? How Social Security was the worry on everybody's mind? Odd how it's no longer a worry, even though nothing has changed. Now the worry we are to talk about is immigration. This, too, is something the wingnuts have designed, though events such as the recent demonstrations have made it into something bigger than the initial design called for.

And that we talk about whether the media is downplaying happy, skippy news from Iraq is also part of the wingnut mesmerizing campaign. I mean, we never write angry letters to the news media because they tell us only about the murder downtown and not about the guy who is snoozing peacefully only a few blocks away. But the snoozers are news in Iraq, because the wingnuts say so.

I'm annoyed by this. I don't like to play defense all the time, and that's how it feels. If I write about something not in the wingnut script I don't get much of a response, and I also feel as if I'm foregoing an opportunity to defend something that deserves it.

The problem is not that the Republicans are offering topics for discussion. That is their right, especially as they are in power. The problem is in the difficulty of getting real attention to any other topic. The administration can drown anything they don't like by simply dumping something else around the same time, and they do this a lot. And then there are the topics that very few people want to touch, for some reason. The question of fair and transparent elections is one. News items which suggest that elections have been neither (such as this one) don't get the attention they deserve which is to be discussed openly and often until the problems have been fixed.

All this is something to remember when you next turn on the television pundit shows.