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Politics as change agent or hobby

Rhea

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I listened to this podcast on the Hidden Brain by Shankar Vendantam on how people engage in politics. Is it to enact change, or as a hobby like following a sport team?

https://hiddenbrain.org/podcast/passion-isnt-enough/

Interesting thoughts and they make some good points that we can all see in our lives and our communities, including this one.

"The way that people are doing politics is much more similar to a hobby than to what I think of as politics, which is, you know, acquiring power," says Eitan Hersh, a professor of political science at Tufts University. He says many Americans are engaging in what he calls "political hobbyism."

"What they're actually doing is not participating themselves in any active way. They're really just following the news."

This news increasingly comes from cable TV and social media, and the stories that get our attention are usually national stories, not local ones. Scandals and entertainment are also more appealing than discussions of policy or even what's happening in our own neighborhoods.

"What news do political junkies demand? Outrage and gossip. Why? Because it's alluring. What news do we avoid? Local news. Why? It's boring," Hersh writes in his book, Politics is for Power


This week on Hidden Brain, we explore the paradox of our passion for politics: we're more informed than ever, but many of us are also less politically active. Why do we see politics as something that happens on Capitol Hill, and not in our neighborhoods? How do we re-frame politics from a form of entertainment to a vehicle for change in our lives? Hersh suggests that the solutions may be less daunting than we think.

If there is anyone who would like to listen tot he podcast and discuss the issues, this thread is opened for discussion of it.
 

none

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The local rag here, yes conservative...
They want money before you read what they want you to read.
There is a story about some city council guy.
I want to read it, but honestly I can't give those idiots money.
Why should I for one story, so I can read months worth of garbage?
The best story I read from them is from the editor where he apologizes for being a misogynist.
I laughed so hard I sent him a letter of encouragement, I'm sure with his 6 figure income he was so down trodden.
 

Rhea

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Since I listened to this topic of how people participate in politics as either a means to make change or a sport where they hate the rival team and just try to score damage, it has been interesting how much I notice it in the wild now.
 

Politesse

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Most people really aren't in a position to claim the kind of power that Cold War Era political science theory posited that we all are striving for. If you have very little hope that your fundamental position in life will ever be changed by the labor you exert, why not take up a hobby or two to pass the time and give your brain something to do?
 

TV and credit cards

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Yeah, we’re all full of shit. We say we care and we do but what do we do about it? Make excuses. Lie to our friends. Worse, lie to ourselves. Just last week I was looking at the county voting website and noticed they had a call out for volunteers. Well I’m not doing much these days. But did I merrily march down and say, sign me up? Hell no. And it should be me. I wonder what abuse might be inflicted upon these good people who do and think who better than I? After twenty three years in the navy, you’re not going to offend me. You’re not going to hurt my feelings. I’ll plaster a smile on my face and tell Karen and Al, I don’t give a rats ass about their opinion, theory, or bellyache.
Trump was a hobby. Holy cow was Trump ever a hobby for me. Soon as that asshole left, I dropped MSNBC like a hot potato. But ask me to go to a protest? All I think about is where am I going to park? What if I have to go to the bathroom. Porta Potties suck. Fuck that.
 

rousseau

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Most people really aren't in a position to claim the kind of power that Cold War Era political science theory posited that we all are striving for. If you have very little hope that your fundamental position in life will ever be changed by the labor you exert, why not take up a hobby or two to pass the time and give your brain something to do?
I'm in agreement with this. It's easy to take the pessimist view that we're all lazy and don't care, but I don't think this paints an accurate picture. In reality I think most of us do want to make a difference, but realize that fundamentally we have negligible power as individuals.

Look at someone like Obama. A good hearted and extremely skilled politician who rose to the most powerful position in the world, and even he'll likely have minimal impact on the arc of history. An argument could likely even be built that his presidency activated American racists and swung the U.S. toward Trump.

So are people who take up politics as a hobby lazy, or just realistic?
 

Swammerdami

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Not only has politics become a "hobby" for many Americans, but those hobbyists now drive the political agenda of Congress and Presidents! Attached is an interview with George F. Will about his latest book, making this point. What was the 2020 platform of the Republican Party? "Trick question," Will replies. They had no platform but to follow their leader, Donald Trump.

George F. Will said:
Conservatives used to say it is very important that we understand that public opinion should be refined and filtered through representative institutions until it is made temperate and reasonable. Instead conservatism has bought into what is the reverse of conservatism, which is populism: the belief that public opinion should be translated directly and as fast as possible by Presidents into policy without reference to other institutions.
...
Today, conservatism is soiled by scowling primitives whose irritable gestures lack mental ingredients. America needs a reminder of conservatism before vulgarians hijacked it, and a hint of how it became susceptible to hijacking.


[YOUTUBE]YOu8c-3OFc0[/YOUTUBE]
 

Rhea

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Most people really aren't in a position to claim the kind of power that Cold War Era political science theory posited that we all are striving for. If you have very little hope that your fundamental position in life will ever be changed by the labor you exert, why not take up a hobby or two to pass the time and give your brain something to do?
I'm in agreement with this. It's easy to take the pessimist view that we're all lazy and don't care, but I don't think this paints an accurate picture. In reality I think most of us do want to make a difference, but realize that fundamentally we have negligible power as individuals.

Look at someone like Obama. A good hearted and extremely skilled politician who rose to the most powerful position in the world, and even he'll likely have minimal impact on the arc of history. An argument could likely even be built that his presidency activated American racists and swung the U.S. toward Trump.

So are people who take up politics as a hobby lazy, or just realistic?


To clarify - the podcast does not say they are taking up politics as a hobby because they are lazy or overwhelmed. The podcast iscusses the difference in how two groups approach politics:
  1. To gain power. To vote, be active, see changes, be in voter drives, pursuade, run for office, create policy, invigorate others to participate. To see change.
  2. To cheer for their team and throw shade at the other team. To enjoy discomfiture, own the libs, wave a flag, call the other team bad. To stomp a rival.

So the “hobby” part is describing the act of groups of people who do not get their rush from enacting or enabling change. They get their rush from chering for a team and reviling the opponent.

It’s a pretty interesting discussion.
 

rousseau

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Most people really aren't in a position to claim the kind of power that Cold War Era political science theory posited that we all are striving for. If you have very little hope that your fundamental position in life will ever be changed by the labor you exert, why not take up a hobby or two to pass the time and give your brain something to do?
I'm in agreement with this. It's easy to take the pessimist view that we're all lazy and don't care, but I don't think this paints an accurate picture. In reality I think most of us do want to make a difference, but realize that fundamentally we have negligible power as individuals.

Look at someone like Obama. A good hearted and extremely skilled politician who rose to the most powerful position in the world, and even he'll likely have minimal impact on the arc of history. An argument could likely even be built that his presidency activated American racists and swung the U.S. toward Trump.

So are people who take up politics as a hobby lazy, or just realistic?


To clarify - the podcast does not say they are taking up politics as a hobby because they are lazy or overwhelmed. The podcast iscusses the difference in how two groups approach politics:
  1. To gain power. To vote, be active, see changes, be in voter drives, pursuade, run for office, create policy, invigorate others to participate. To see change.
  2. To cheer for their team and throw shade at the other team. To enjoy discomfiture, own the libs, wave a flag, call the other team bad. To stomp a rival.

So the “hobby” part is describing the act of groups of people who do not get their rush from enacting or enabling change. They get their rush from chering for a team and reviling the opponent.

It’s a pretty interesting discussion.

Right, I think the common view on those who would take up politics as a hobby in the way the podcast describes is that these people don't actually care about their impact and don't care enough to do anything meaningful, the implication being that they're lazy/careless. Maybe there is also another element that they just get a kick out of being on a team.

The common reaction I see to this is undue pessimism, but my argument is that most people instinctively know that they're basically powerless to enact real change. When things get real enough like a Bush or Trump presidency it motivates some people, but I think most are aware of when activism starts offering diminishing returns. And that's not a high threshold.
 

Rhea

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Well the premise was that they do indeed do it to get a kick out of rooting for a team.

Is your take that they only like rooting for a team because they’ve already given up on change?
 
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