Friday, July 29, 2005

New Politicians, New Media, New Methods

Like usual, I've been reading news articles and watching them stew about in my head. However, I have been forcefully subjected to mass media over the past few weeks, which is akin to going from fresh salmon to fish sticks. Nero Wolfe would Not Approve.

One of the things I've noticed is the self-destruction of politicians.

For the past decade or more, we've been ramping up our infoholism. We worship the mind-miners, but the early adopters have turned to head-jackers and head-hackers! That's a silly way of saying: we're getting more information from more sources than ever before.

Many people aren't, of course. They're still reading their one newspaper, or whatever. But the early adoption trend is towards fairly wide (albeit shallow) news sources. That means mass adoptation isn't more than twenty years away, at most.

Here's something you may not know: when a human is given a wide range of sources, they rapidly learn to cut deeply beneath what the source is saying to what the source actually thinks. For example, it's not hard to determine if someone is popular or not, if they are rich or not - because even if both types say they are well-off, there is the stench of desperation around the fakers. You know the stench, because you've seen it before in your wide range of posers.

The wider range of news sources will allow for the same thing - a skill at cutting through the bullshit and determining exactly what the media and government really thinks.

Therefore, politics are going to radically change.

Hillary Clinton hasn't figured this out yet. I don't know whether she actually believes she can become president, but she's certainly whoring out. High-profile whoring, too. Thirty years ago, twenty years ago, even ten years ago, her whoring would have the desired result: it would gain her political favors within the political "industry", favors she could draw on to advance her career. Oh, and also ingratiate her with a "grateful" public.

Now it's not. Now, it's being covered by media sources. People are reading these blurbs, and they are starting to think, "hmmm... she's making a lot of concessions. She's changing her mind - she's whoring out. I guess she's NOT very strong. She can't even convince people to support her without rubbing them the right way."

From there, it quickly advances to, "she's not the woman I thought she was. She doesn't have the strength - politically or morally - that I thought she did."

They may not even think this consciously. But people are wired to admire strength. People are built to follow leaders. And the news of Hillary shows she isn't a leader. She's not leading others - she's following. She's making concessions, she's cooing and cuddling with her fellow politicians. That's a kind of power, but not the kind people automatically respect. If the people don't respect her, the politicians won't respect her, and even her favors will dry up suddenly.

People automatically respect people who get everyone to bend to them - in turn, making it more likely people will bend to them. It's a bad habit which is the reason behind the fact that almost all governments over the course of history were dictatorships and monarchies. It's the reason Hitler came so close to winning, the reason Stalin hung on for so long. It's both an instinctive social tendency to fold to these people AND it's generally a conscious intellectual choice, so as to avoid being lynched.

(Obviously, this also tends to polarize a population: you either hate the bastard or you love the bastard. There's very little room for anything inbetween.)

George W. Bush has done an UNARGUABLY TERRIBLE job of leading the nation. As in: I'd rather be saying "President Lector". Yet many people worship this fool, and many more people accept him, and almost everyone tolerates him.

Bill Clinton had a similar problem. Almost all the non-democrats hated him, because he was all about government bloat. But democrats loved him dearly. Why? For the same reason so many people like W:

They're leaders.

I don't like calling them that. They're both poor speakers, for example. Bush has no particular charisma, listening to Clinton made me want to punch him in the face. But, despite the fact that they were totally incompetant leaders, they were leaders.

They were leaders because they didn't compromise. They didn't back off. They took the wheel, and everyone else had to follow them. They showed pure, unadulterated power, and the nation respected that, even if they couldn't stand the person.

In this environment of connectivity, leadership is more powerful than ever. Every comment which reveals that someone gave in to you enhances your aura of strength. Every bit of coverage reveals the truth of your leadership. If you can combine this with a powerful charisma and speaking skill, you've got it made.

Hillary will not be president. If the democrats are foolish enough to push her as their primary, they will lose and the repubs will be elected again. But it's more than that: the very nature of the game is changing.

Presidents (indeed, anyone who gets solid media coverage) will become more and more dominating, settle less and less. This will resonate throughout the whole world.

I expect these people to appeal primarily to nationalism. I expect relationships between countries to grow tense.

Any nation or group of nations which remain "soft" - like Europe is tending towards - will be economically defunct in this new age. Hard countries, like China, will be the dominant force. Other countries will either stand up and become hard themselves, or they will fold and become submissive.

That is the USA's primary advantage. It always has been. We're lazy. We're stupid. We're hopelessly self-centered.

And we don't negotiate.

And that position is one of infinite strength.

The fact that it will almost certainly lead to some kind of war between us and China by 2050 is entirely besides the point.

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