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About That Schadenfreude

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As read by the host on air this morning, from the WSJ Editorial Board Sunday on the Virginia meltdown:

Republicans can hardly believe their luck as they watch Democrats destroy themselves with the same weaponized outrage that has long been used against them. They also see the double standards, knowing that a Republican in similar straits would already have been forced from office. Given that Brett Kavanaugh was libeled only months ago as a gang rapist with no evidence, Republicans might be forgiven some schadenfreude as they now see the torments of identity politics turned upon the tormentors.

But the political chaos that currently characterizes Virginia state politics, as based on identity politics, is just the tip of the iceberg.  There is the ugly, ugly anti-Semitism of one House member from Minnesota.  And the apparent Dem self-destruction does not end there.  But I wonder if it is really self-destructive?

This past weekend I experienced a cultural event that drove home to me how wide the divide really is in this nation.  I cannot go into details, but let’s just say I found more common cultural touchpoints on visits to the Soviet Union and the PRC than I did at this event less than 20 miles from my home. I wonder if Dems truly understand just how utterly foreign things like marijuana legalization, late-term/near-birth abortion, the “Green New Deal,” and “Medicare-For-All” are to so many Americans.  Such ideas are somewhere past disagreement for many; they are inconceivable.  Yet like Vizzini, we use that word and yet here we are forced to not just conceive of, but refute, the inconceivable.  There are enough people in the nation that take these ideas seriously that these pols think these are good ideas to pursue.  So can we really call this stuff really “self-destructive?”

But one must also wonder if in this current media age, destruction, self or otherwise, can only happen via media?

AOC has attempted to “delete” the most controversial aspects of the GND. and the furor has indeed quieted.  Fortunately, the Internet never forgets.  The Congressperson in question regarding anti-Semitism has “apologized” but still sounds darkly anti-Israel.  And so the apology has become the story.  Now, imagine if you will a Republican congressman putting out a plan, rapidly withdrawn, that includes the restoration of Jim Crow.  Do you think the rapid withdrawal coupled with a deep and sincere apology would be taken seriously?  Do you think the negative tide would stem after such?  I don’t – particularly in this age of niche marketing.

The name of the game now in media is not to build a huge audience, but to build a decent audience that is highly devoted.  That is to say, an audience that will follow you anywhere and go into their pockets repeatedly to your benefit.  In other words, you can make as much, or more, money from ten completely sycophantic fans than you can from a casual audience of 1000.  Thus Republicans can indeed experience schadenfreude, but the Democrat needle can remain unmoved.  And the media does not care because they are reaching for one or the other.

And so what we have come down to in politics is not who can unite the country – build the largest general audience – but who can build the larger niche audience.  And so the divide grows ever wider.  Media may not be message, but it has certainly become more than mere messenger.

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