David Brooks makes an argument for having a sensible perspective on politics:
… Then there are those who look to politics for identity. They treat their partisan affiliation as a form of ethnicity. These people drive a lot of talk radio and television. Not long ago, most intelligent television talk was not about politics. Shows would put interesting people together, like Woody Allen with Billy Graham (check it out on YouTube), and they’d discuss anything under the sun.
Now most TV and radio talk is minute political analysis, while talk of culture has shriveled. This change is driven by people who, absent other attachments, have fallen upon partisanship to give them a sense of righteousness and belonging….
I figure that unless you are in the business of politics, covering it or columnizing about it, politics should take up maybe a tenth corner of a good citizen’s mind. The rest should be philosophy, friendship, romance, family, culture and fun. I wish our talk-show culture reflected that balance, and that the emotional register around politics were more in keeping with its low but steady nature.
That sounds good. Do watch that Woody Allen/Billy Graham clip. It would be great to see more stuff like that.
And Lord knows I’ve had enough of the tribal types who define themselves in terms of their partisan affiliations.
But… as I look around me today, when people aren’t talking about politics, it seems they’re talking about reality TV, sports or what some celebrity wore to some self-congratulatory entertainement awards ceremony. Mostly sports. (There were two stories on the front page of The State today. Two. Most of the rest of the space was taken up by sports promos and a picture of a Christmas tree.)
If we pull back on the politics, we can’t really expect the vacuum to be filled by Dick Cavett-type conversation.
Not from what I’ve seen.