Sunday, April 19, 2015

Why burnout happens

Here's a Guardian interview with Jon Stewart published this weekend. Why is he leaving the Daily Show just before the start of a new Presidential election cycle?
“Honestly, it was a combination of the limitations of my brain and a format that is geared towards following an increasingly redundant process, which is our political process. I was just thinking, ‘Are there other ways to skin this cat?’ And, beyond that, it would be nice to be home when my little elves get home from school, occasionally.”
"Increasingly redundant."  Remember, the dominant fact of life for Americans in their 40s or younger (Stewart's audience in large part) is that wages have been declining for as long or longer than they have been alive.  It doesn't really matter which faction of elites is running the government. Most of us are steadily becoming worse off regardless.

In light of this, it's really no wonder that politics has,  for most people, become a futile circus played for no tangible benefit.  Every election season brings with it another incoherent belching of grievances.  Nothing ever changes as a result.  And the cycle repeats. Even Stewart is burned out. And he's been getting rich off of the farce.

Anyway, here's Matt Taibbi explaining exactly what Stewart means by redundant.

Having watched this campaign-reporting process from both the inside and the outside for a long time now, I knew what was coming after the initial wave of "Hillary the Populist!" stories.

In presidential politics, every time a candidate on either the left or the right veers in a populist direction – usually with immediate success, since the American populace is ready to run through a wall for anyone who makes the obvious observation that they're being screwed by someone up above – it takes about two or three days before the "Let's let cooler heads prevail!" editorials start trickling in.

These chin-scratching op-eds arrive on time every time, like clockwork. They declare that populism is all well and good, and of course a necessary strategy for getting elected, but the "reality" is that once in office, one has to govern.

And since the people are a stupid, angry mob, these op-eds say, and don't know how to govern themselves, the politician will have to abandon the populism sooner or later.

Then there's another kind of "cooler heads" editorial. This one makes note of the candidate's populist rhetoric, and maybe even applauds it as good solid political strategy.

But then the editorialist quietly reassures us that these speeches are all a pose, and that once in office, the candidate will revert back to being the shamelessly bought-off creature of billionaire interests he or she always has been.
Maybe what you have now is bad and getting worse but the people producing and writing about these events are doing okay.  Change is scary, they tell us. Change is inadvisable too. And anyway change is not really possible so don't you worry your pretty little heads about it.  Here, watch us chase a van through the parking lot at Chipotle.  

It's the same script executed over and over. It is redundant. It is depressing.  It takes a great deal of stamina not to just let it burn you out.

1 comment:

Nolaresident said...

blockquote>the dominant fact of life for Americans in their 40s or younger (Stewart's audience in large part)

Oy vey ist mir! I am in my fifties and have several friends who are 60ish and we all watch J.S. nightly. I suppose I had better pass along this info to them. Tell me: Does Lawrence Welk still come on?