Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Angry Public Servants Don't Serve America

As cable demagogues and bloggers compete for America’s top ranter, moderates like me (i.e., most Americans) are getting left in the dust. And it’s getting uglier by the day.

It’s not easy being a political vegetarian.

Recently I appeared on a highly rated cable program discussing an issue of the day. My take happened to be somewhat bipartisan and collegial. During the break the host turned to me and said, “McKinnon cut the Kumbaya crap and give me some red meat.”

I know how to drive activity on a blog post. Simply say anything in defense George Bush. And I mean anything.

This is where there is a huge disconnect between Washington and the rest of the country. Most people I know are not highly partisan. Most are fairly centrist, a little left or a little right, but not on the fringe. And increasingly, they don’t feel like they have a representative voice anymore.

There just isn’t a lot of nuance or middle ground in the blogosphere, on talk radio, or cable TV. You are a shirt or a skin.

For a while the media accused incumbent presidential administrations of running permanent campaigns. But, now it’s the media that can’t put down the crack pipe of political conflict because it drives ratings.

It is interesting that CNN, the “noneditorial, middle-of-the road” cable news network, just fell to third place, falling behind Fox and MSNBC, which made a strategic decision to become give up objectivity for a lurch to the left.

And it’s not just the lurching to the left and right that is troublesome, it’s venom-and bile-filled tone. Think Keith Olbermann’s “Worst Person in the World.” What a wonderful daily mission that is.

I know how to drive activity on a blog post. Simply say anything in defense of George W. Bush. And I mean anything. The haters come out of the woodwork. Or, for that matter, say anything laudatory about Barack Obama. Same thing. Doesn’t matter. It is simply unacceptable anymore to suggest that our public servants may actually be doing, if not a pretty good job, at least the best they could be doing under the current circumstances.

It’s simply impossible to have any moderate political discourse. Impossible to put forth an argument and not instantly have your motives questioned. It’s not OK just to be on the wrong side of an issue—you have to be bad, misguided, ill-informed. Blame it on the evolutionary Darwinism of the media. Blame it on redistricting. Blame it on anything, but it’s hard to deny.
I describe myself as a Connecticut Republican. Which is shorthand for a moderate Republican. Of course, there are no more Republicans left in Connecticut.

I admit that I’m just a longtime political hack without much credibility to talk for the man on the street. But I do know that a healthy percentage of the people I talk to these days increasingly feel like no one represents them anymore. Not in Congress. Not in the media. Not anywhere. And they are the majority.

But the angry minority is running the show these days.

And it’s getting uglier by the day.

Read it here.

As vice chairman of Public Strategies and president of Maverick Media, Mark McKinnon has helped meet strategic challenges for candidates, causes, and individuals, including George W. Bush, John McCain, Governor Ann Richards, Charlie Wilson, Lance Armstrong, and Bono. McKinnon is co-chair of Arts & Labs, a collaboration between technology and creative communities that have embraced today’s rich internet environment to deliver innovative and creative digital products to consumers.

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