Any sports fan is regularly treated to stories about rich, spoiled atheltes. The latest legal peccadilloes of superstar athletes form a regular staple of sports talk radio. But on a day when one Ohio high school basketball player has become so hyped already that his team is having a game shown on ESPN, prior to his inevitable and long awaited jump to the NBA, here's a nice story about another Ohio basketball player that's a little more appealing.
Over the past months, there have been proponents from both sides of the political spectrum complaining about the echo chamber effect present in their opponents. Whether it’s the echo chamber of the warmongering blogosphere or the conservative press and spin machine or the liberal anti-war idiotarians, it seems that each side is able to see and decry the tendency of their opponents to listen only to like minded voices, and ignore or turn into strawmen those who oppose them.
While this is certainly a real phenomenon, for me this weekend has illustrated a larger and more pernicious echo chamber—that of those who really pay attention to politics. This is a pernicious echo chamber not because of it’s effects on those inside, but because the majority are outside and either don’t know or don’t care.
What brought this home to me was the whole Trent Lott affair. I generally don’t spend much time on the internet on weekends, and rarely watch the network news programs. So I was completely ignorant of the entire issue until I took my morning stroll around the blogosphere, and found it all abuzz with the huge controversy. It was the big news of the day, and everyone was weighing in. I spent my weekend like everyone else in the country, and had no idea what the heck everyone was atwitter about.
But outside this tiny group of pundits and journalists, no-one cares. If you went to the mall and pulled aside the average person of voting age and asked them what they thought of Trent Lott, even if you happened to find someone who knew who he was, I can almost guarantee you none of them would have any clue about this recent flap.
And that’s a problem. On the one hand you have a vocal and involved political active minority, throwing around stories back and forth and building them up or tearing them down. In this insular little world, the biggest news of the day really is the Trent Lott gaffe. But for the 98% of the population who aren’t political junkies, the group that actually decides elections, this might as well not have happened. The echoes can be deafening inside the chamber, but outside they are almost inaudible, drowned out by the hum of everyday cares.
Forget campaign finance reform. It’s this widespread voter apathy and ignorance that gives money it’s influence. If you follow the issues, then a last minute barrage of TV ads by Congressman Porky Pilferer isn’t going to convince you what a great guy he is, no matter how many soft focus shots and meaninglessly vague platitudes they feature. But unfortunately, most people don’t care enough to become informed, and so can be manipulated by ads and propaganda. And that’s why politicians aren’t held accountable, because the only thing that matters is how many commercials they can get on the air in the final month of the election. You can be a racist or a crook, but if you have a big war chest and good name recognition, then you’re almost guaranteed re-election.
A Renaissance blog: Politics, sports, literature, history, and whatever else strikes my fancy.
My writings on basketball: Court analysis
The views expressed do not represent those of,
and are not endorsed by:
my employer, the US Government, IBM, Microsoft,
or anyone else other than myself.