[ExI] Sudden outbreak of democracy baffles US pundits

Stefano Vaj stefano.vaj at gmail.com
Sat Oct 4 21:50:42 UTC 2008

<<By Andrew Orlowski <andrew.orlowski at theregister.co.uk> • Get more from
this author <http://search.theregister.co.uk/?author=Andrew%20Orlowski>

Posted in Government<http://www.theregister.co.uk/public_sector/government/>,
3rd October 2008 18:47 GMT

*Comment* Something very spooky happened in the United States last week. The
chances are you noticed it too, many days before it was reported.

Tuesday found me in New York, on my first stateside visit in a couple of
years. The details of the Bailout plan had just been revealed and the slow
burn of outrage was apparent everywhere. Admittedly, this was New York.

(Long-time readers will know I was the San Francisco correspondent for *El
Reg* for six years and was frequently asked by Europeans: "What do Americans
think of ... x?" To which the only honest answer is, "I can't tell you what
Americans think, but here in San Francisco ...")

The outrage isn't the spooky part. The really odd thing is that if you had
to rely on the mainstream US newspapers and TV channels - and nothing else -
you'd wouldn't know something remarkable was happening. Which is that the
Treasury Secretary's Bailout Plan had united parts of America who spend most
of their energy hitting each other over the head, in common opposition to
the proposal.

It was the moment that politicians dread the most. This was not merely an
outbreak of popular discontent, but a phenomenon which breaks down those
convenient labels the political marketing people like to use, to shield
their masters from people's true desires and intentions. Not just coarse
labels like "Left" and "Right" - but the really dumb, patronizing
demographic ones like "Soccer Mom" and the nadir of modern politics, those
found in Mark Penn's "Microtrends." Niche marketers will have to start from

Conservatives, libertarians, and lefties all raised objections to the
Bailout for very sound reasons of their own. The idea that the state should
bail out feckless private enterprises offended both conservatives and
libertarians, who take moral responsibility seriously. The left wanted their
traditional adversaries put in jail, not given a gift of new lease of life
with the public's money.

People discovered that to "Change Congress," you simply need a ballot box -
or the threat of one.

All this was reflected on political sites, forums and blogs - but not a hint
of this sentiment was expressed by the professional media. So when Congress
rejected the Bill on Monday, America's punditocracy expressed its shock. It
also reported that the markets were "astonished" - the markets being
presumed to have a better grasp of what American citizens want than American
citizens themselves.

All week, the media had refrained from comment that might embarrass the
political class. In fact, the first professional column I read which was
reflected the true feelings of many US citizens around me was written from
3,500 miles away and published in London's *Sunday Times*.>>
Continues at
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <http://lists.extropy.org/pipermail/extropy-chat/attachments/20081004/ac447da0/attachment.html>

More information about the extropy-chat mailing list