Outdated cultures behind America’s failing political system


The political crisis in America runs deeper than most commentators realize. But will they ever see this?

The Republicans’ strong performance in recent U.S. state and local elections, particularly in winning the governorship of Virginia, a state Biden handily won last year, has several lessons. One is that Democrats got it wrong when they campaigned on anti-Trump feelings, another one they have to go big and daring.

Even before the election – less than a year after Joe Biden’s presidency began and three years after the next presidential election – some liberal commentators worried that Donald Trump could attempt to steal the 2024 election, or even steal the election. earn them outright. Maybe the Liberals never stopped worrying about Trump. He has an extraordinary ability to convince people that everything revolves around him.

Earlier this year, as Biden took office, I wrote an essay on how the mainstream liberal media, obsessed with Trump and having deposed him, missed the opportunity to explore the deeper dynamic behind. his shock election. They embraced Biden’s election with sighs of relief at his centrist politics and a return to political normality. But nothing was settled, I warned.

I presented the essay to about six US media outlets, but unsurprisingly, no response. So I deleted much of the material on Trump to focus the document more broadly on the failure of mainstream US politics and media to reflect and respond to the concerns and fears Americans have about their lives, country and country. to come up. I draw this failure mainly from their professional cultures. It is also, to varying degrees, the predicament of other Western democracies.

My essay draws on decades of research and analysis of human progress, the health and well-being of the people, and the future, and therefore comes from a very different perspective than most political analyzes. . I contend that America’s political and journalistic cultures are too “short-sighted” and “narrow” to address the challenges and problems of the nation. These are “existential” in that they threaten both materially and physically human civilization and survival, and also undermine people’s sense of confidence and certainty in life.

The political debate must encourage the conceptual space for a transformation of our worldview, our beliefs and our values ​​as deep as those of human history, I say.

I submitted the revised essay to seven academic journals in the fields of politics, political communication, journalism and media, and social science – again without success. In some cases the problem was a mismatch between my essay and the journal. One newspaper editor wrote: “This is a well-written and interesting article, and I enjoyed reading it and learned from it.” But, he said, it wasn’t a good match for the newspaper. The reason given in another case was competition for publication (many leading journals have rejection rates of over 90%).

But there is also the Trump factor. One editor asserted that “the fundamental thesis is that not re-electing Trump was a wasted opportunity. We believe this analysis does not reflect an understanding of Trump, the Trump base, or even the Republican Party to have anything to offer in terms of policy recommendations other than anger, victimization and hatred of elites, Republican as well as Democrat ‘. This is a gross distortion of the test.

Another editor wrote: “Although we do publish some opinion pieces, they are usually not as openly partisan towards political parties. It has to be argued that Trump was elected for objective reasons that should not be forgotten, but we really need to incorporate opposing views into a discussion like this. It is doubtful that the political reality is as one-sided as you describe it.

I appealed – unsuccessfully – against the latter decision, stressing that Trump was at the center of only one of the six sections of the essay; he was “pro-Trump” only to the extent that he recognized his political impact; and it transcended party politics. “My central thesis is that the cultures of politics and journalism are too limited and outdated to adequately address people’s deep concerns about life and the future, and the scale of the challenges facing states. United and the world. I have used the election of Trump and the reaction of the liberal media to him to illustrate this “cultural blindness.”

However, I lay awake one night thinking about the publisher’s criticisms and decided he was right: although my review was about mainstream political orthodoxy, I realized that many readers would see it as a partisan attack on Democrats and liberal media.

So I’ll revise the essay again and submit it to another review: Extract more of Trump’s documents and make it even clearer that the essay’s central argument is that the political systems of Western liberal democracy are failing. Dazzled by their cultures, most politicians and journalists fail to see the scale of this failure.

This should be the most basic layer of political discourse – the one that is largely absent.

[A ‘preprint’ of the full essay is available here.]

Teaser photo credit: Journalists at a press conference. By Kai Mörk, CC BY 3.0 of, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=6438250

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