Why Are We So Polarized About News And Politics Now?

The central topic of our time currently is, what is increasing the gap between political movements and opinions right now? Why is it that unlike ever before, we as a society are increasingly heading toward mass disharmony and maybe even violence? Politics is the number one issue in many people’s minds as there are great changes taking place in the world. Europe has its own political landscape but in terms of outright conflict between the left and right, America is taking it to another level. There are people fighting in the street, namely two groups that can be defined as Antifa and Center-right coalitions. Fundamentally it's a question of values and policies. For the liberals, they want to see open borders, a destruction of nations and a system that is geared to identity politics. What you see on the right or the coalition in America is centrists, center-right conservatives, libertarians and classical liberals, wanting to keep nations and borders, a maintenance of law and order, and trying to drag out emotions from civilized discussion. Let's go into this a little more.


Source Gage Skidmore


Fighting the person, not the idea

Following the election of Trump as president, something curiously strange started to happen. This person who had been a public personality, a figure on television shows where he pointed his finger at people and said “you’re fired” was being accused of being racist, a fraud, an outlaw and sexual abuser. All of these allegations came at once and no one knew what to believe. He had been in the eyes of America as the classic New Yorker, business, and trade mogul that had billions thanks to his real estate deals.

The left, namely the Democratic Party, began to attack him personally and in a very public way. However, the question is why did they not attack the ideas he was standing on, and instead go for him personally? Well, Middle America voted for the Republican candidate because he promised more jobs and lower taxes. This after the premiership of Obama looked enticing and normal everyday people didn’t seem to care about those allegations and just wanted a better life for themselves. One could argue that the Democrats found it easier to paint their enemy as an uneducated monster than to look at their own ideas, see where they went off the rails in public support and try to see what they could try to offer voters.


Image by Josh Hallett


Who to believe?

US political polarization is taking a new form in that, what news outlets are ‘fake news’? There are so many to choose from and somehow many seem to be saying different things, what should the public choose to take seriously and ignore? CNN is the main hard-liberal news source that regularly goes after anything the 45th leader of the US does in office. On the other hand, Fox News seems to praise Trump on anything he does. They both have different viewing numbers and ratings, with CNN falling behind substantially over the last year or so. Fox News has been steady but due to both not really innovating and trying to hack their way into new media, are declining slowly.

Many news broadcasting companies will only have on certain experts in different fields, and both the left and right seem to pick people that corroborate their values. In essence what you have are echo chambers, where people on side totally say something different to the other. There seems to be no way to trust any of the traditional media news outlets.


Photo by Esther Vargas


Alternative media is rising

News anchors have become personalities themselves. Rather than report the narrative, they are trying to run the narrative. Alternative media sources are simply people that have never worked in the media but have knowledge, degrees, and great knowledge of certain subject matters and they produce videos that are viewed only online. On the left, you have YouTube channels like TYT, and on the right, you have channels like Steven Crowder. People watch their videos for a lot longer than news channels. And since all of their consumption is done online, people are able to pause videos and do their own research to see who is telling the truth. One of the greatest things about alternative media is that there are conversations and debates happening in the comment sections. Anyone with an account on YouTube can post and reply to a comment. Therefore you have people from the left and right, actually debating one another, rather than shielding themselves off from each other.


It's a fascinating time to see the changes the media is going through. Politics is getting so interesting. However, more and more people feel polarized and traditional media may not be helping the issue.

Democracy In Spain Under Threat Following Catalonian Independence Referendum

The Spanish region of Catalonia has had a long and troubled history, characterized by a long struggle for independence. Last week, it seemed as though they might finally get the freedom that they’ve been fighting for all of this time. Following the regional election of 2015, pro-independence parties make up 47.8 percent of the seats, giving them an absolute majority and a mandate to initiate a referendum on Catalan independence.


Image Source

Several attempts were made by the Catalan parliament to agree on terms for a referendum with the Spanish government but they refused to budge. Determined to go ahead with the vote that they had an absolute legal right to, the Catalan government have decided to go ahead with the referendum anyway. The result of that decision has been a week of horrifying images of severe oppression in the region that has raised the question, is democracy in Spain under threat?


In most democratic countries around the world, it is the job of the police force to do everything that they can to protect every citizen’s right to vote. But the scene in Catalonia was drastically different. There have been shocking videos distributed online of police violently removing people from the polling stations as they attempted to vote for their independence. Ballot boxes were removed and the police took measures to disrupt the referendum and disrupt it entirely. Officials of the Catalan government have been arrested and all political rallies have been outlawed completely. Media outlets have been banned from advertising anything to do with the referendum and pro-referendum websites have been closed down. There hasn’t been an attack on free speech like this in Spain in recent history. Organizations like the National Endowment for Democracy have raised concerns that this scathing attack on democracy sets a dangerous precedent in Spain and calls into question the future of their citizens. The right to vote and the right to free expression are two of the central pillars of democracy and once you tear them down, the whole ideology is in danger of crumbling. At the moment, the Spanish government is acting more like a dictatorship than a democratic government.


Since the vote, the Spanish government has seized control of the finances of the Catalan government, essentially crippling them. Catalonia brings in a huge amount of the country’s income and so they’ve lost their biggest bargaining chip. The government is currently threatening to curb social services to increase their stranglehold in the region.


Regardless of that oppression, the people of Catalonia remain strong, although a huge amount of the people that voted in the referendum have chosen to leave the country for fear that the situation will only get worse. The Catalan government was expected to officially declare their independence in a session of parliament scheduled for Monday, but the Spanish government have suspended the Catalan parliament and refused to acknowledge the result of the referendum.


It’s difficult to tell how the situation will play out but this attack on democracy should be a worry for the entire world.

What I'm Geeking Out About This Week - 11/07/14


Welcome to another week in geek!

I'm again highlighting a diverse array of things that I have been enjoying as of late. Hopefully some of them are stuff you check and enjoy as well!

This new NBC show from creator David Caspe (who also created the awesome show Happy Endings) stars Casey Wilson and Ken Marino. It is loosely based on Caspe and Wilson's real life relationship and recent marriage. Wilson and Marino are some of my favorite comedic actors and they are given some great material to work with here. If you have watched Happy Endings, it is very similar to that with more of a focus on relationship humor. It's quick, witty, and has ended up as one of the few new shows this fall season I think I might stick with (sorry Gotham).

I'll withhold judgement on this new Congress until it is sworn in and gets to work, but the link above goes to the aspect of elections I end up being more fascinated by; ballot measures. I see it as a more fine tuned barometer of where the country is at on particular issues. Marijuana legalization (sale and use) won in two states, as well as minimum wage increases in a handful of states. Personhood amendments were also voted down in a few states. With stuff like marriage equality and marijuana, I've seen a drastic change just in my short lifetime. I'm intrigued to see where it all goes since this is where I see major societal change happening constantly versus the inaction coming from Congress.

I have to give a long overdue shout out to The Tonight Show since the mantle has been passed to Jimmy Fallon. He has brought his same fun energy and new media savvy to the venerable program, making all the episodes easily available on YouTube (link above), as well as Hulu. He also has several viral videos churning out of his show, having one almost every week it seems like, beating out the fading Jimmy Kimmel Live attempts (in my humble opinion). I mostly like to catch his "Thank You Notes" as well as the games he plays with his guests over his monologues or interview (which feel a little dated at this point). I highly recommend this show!!

Thanks for stopping by!