Friday, July 20, 2012

Voices of Crowds

Political gaffes are interesting less because of what is said, but by how their interpretation on both sides of the aisle illustrates larger political themes.  When Romney said "corporations are people too", he was likely talking about the shareholders and workers, who deserved to be included in the conversation.  But this mattered less than the way it seemed to succinctly illustrate the left's perception of conservatives caring more about the profits of big business than their negative, corrupting effects in society.

Obama's recent gaffe about what small businesses - taken out of context to mean that small businesses are wholly reliant on government, likely in fact meaning that they are not wholly unreliant (two quite different claims) - illustrate what different political sides want to focus on.

In much of our political discourse, we have arguments over gut feelings, or larger narratives with implicit assumptions, not by debating those grand philosophical ideals, but rather by quibbling with details by proxy - raising anecdotes, emphasizing facts that support our side, etc.

Romney/conservatives think liberals over-emphasize the importance of government.  Obama/liberals think conservatives underestimate importance of government.

I suppose in the end all of this stuff, marginal as it appears at the time, nibbles away into the formation of political movements over the decades.  But in the moment, it all feels a bit too much like we're all caught in a sort of molasses-like political ether in which much of what we communicate to one another is merely an expression of larger, intangible forces.

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