"Our elections last six weeks," commented a man from Toronto, reacting to one of my Canada columns at MarketWatch.com. "How long do yours last now, two years?"
Longer. But there are "only" 14 more months of pointless political punditry left on MSNBC, Fox News, CNN, Fox Business, CNBC, etc. Fourteen more long months of partisan, mindless yammering, meaningless polls, and regurgitated talking points.
We have monetized our political system the same way we've monetized college sports, and for the same reasonl: The enrichment of broadcasters.
I caught a documentary on San Francisco-based Link TV recently about D.C. lobbyists. It raised a little-known but noteworthy point: Senators and representatives are actually in Washington only Tuesday through Thursday. (On Tuesday most of them are jet-lagged). The nation's business, if it gets done at all, usually is done Wednesdays. (Thursdays, they're packing and heading to Dulles).
Where are our reps the other four days of the week? Back home, vacuuming up campaign money. Over 90 per cent of which will go to -- ta da! -- broadcasters, for campaign ads.
Raking it in
Meanwhile, broadcasters rake in revenue from the ubiquitous political-argument shows.
Pretty good system for today's corporate-controlled media, isn't it?
It's bad enough that a flood of TV-rights money has overwhelmed college sports, turning campuses into glorified farm clubs for the NFL and NBA and making colleges jock nurseries with thuggish mesomorphs/faux students hulking around campus who shouldn't even have graduated from high school. It takes money to run a college, some administrators will tell you, and sports cable networks have it.
TV money poisons everything it touches, and it's done the same thing to government it's done to our colleges and universities.
But hey, that's the entertainment biz!
TV money has turned our government into a rancorous, partisan, poisonous money machine. It's turned our campuses into farm teams and training camps for the pros.
It's wonderful what our media and broadcasters have wrought.
Politics as rasslin'
Thanks to TV, politics is now treated like a wrestling match, with constant bickering and venting masquerading as discussion of public issues. We have truly evolved into what perceptive author Deborah Tannen called "The Argument Culture" in her prescient book.
People constantly sniping/yelling at/arguing with each other constantly? That makes for good TV. No one wants to see a calm discussion of issues any more, TV consultants will argue.
No one wants to watch a college football game today without hype, bone-crunching tackles, head shots, and showboating any more, they'll also tell you. Juice it up. And who cares what all this misplaced gladiator crap means to the few kids who are actually on campus to study and their parents? Besides, as we're being told, a college degree is pretty worthless in today's job market.
But being a high pro draft choice? Now THAT'S a reason to go to college.
Just remember into whose pockets all this money is ending up.
It may be far too easy and too facile to blame TV and the media for many of our degraded society's long list of serious woes, agreed. But it's a damn good starting point.