02 November, 2010
Extra! It's Too Bad the Mid-Terms Are Big News
And that's too bad. Like vultures circling, it's an indicator that something has gone wrong. In a better world, political elections would not be such big news. Oh, they would be news. They would be important. But, they would not have the bile-generating, fury-inducing power that they have in many modern democracies. You might object that of course elections should be big news. They have a major impact on society and the lives of everyone in it! And I would agree. That is the problem. More specifically, the fact that "major impact" barely begins to describe the effect elections have on people living in this land (and, indeed, on people living in distant lands) is the problem. We are, most of us, made worse off by the fact that so much of our lives has become insinuated by the structures of government. Permission to adapt to changing circumstances is often not forthcoming in such a society. For, the contest between the civil and the political is a largely zero-sum one. The growing scope for politics and its trappings (laws, regulations, etc.) means a shrinking scope for civil (i.e., voluntary) give and take.
But, it is this very growth in the scope of politics within our society that makes the outcome of elections all the more momentous--and therefore more newsworthy. Given the potent power government wields over Americans and, as important, the future powers precedent seems to reserve, it is tragically rational for us to take a keen, perhaps manic, interest in the details of these periodic scrambles for political posts. And so, it is quite appropriate for the news media to build entire sets around the coverage of said scrambles. It's not every day that so much is decided about how we may or may not lawfully live our lives.
It's too bad the mid-term elections are Big News. But, they are.