- Jackson gave us the Era of the West
- Lincoln gave us the Gilded Age.
- Teddy Roosevelt gave us the Era of Progressivism.
- FDR gave us us the Era of Government.
This era, 1968-2008, could easily be called the Era of Symbolism.
It is through the manipulation of symbols that conservatives have held power. TV likes symbols. This is not news. We all like to complain TV prefers symbols to substance. The Silent Majority. The Gipper. The War on Terror. These are, and were, symbols, meant to identify the Republican side as good and their opponents as not-good.
Symbols are a vital piece of myth-making, of creating shared values from which power emerges. The political power of TV is the power to bring these together. Truth doesn’t enter into it.
There are many Democrats who are upset about this, yet feel powerless to do anything about it. The whole George Lakoff "framing" game is meant to create new symbols which battle the old. And today Glenn Greenwald goes after the symbols themselves (his picture is from the Majikthise blog) showing by chapter-and-verse how little substance there is behind some of the Right’s favorite symbols.
To a great extent, the desire to see through symbols, or to re-frame symbols, is a sucker’s game. It’s a sucker’s game because it essentially looks backward, to the TV era in which the Nixon Thesis dominates, for its inspiration. And if wishes were horses, beggars would ride.
The point here, in discussing open source politics and Internet
values, is that this medium holds the key to the future. Within this
medium, Democratic and liberal arguments are winning, because their
advocates bring more facts and rhetorical talent to the table. Right-wingers online mainly engage in in supporting symbols, propping them up, rather than taking them apart to see what is inside. This is their downfall. (There are exceptions, but these are few and far between.)
Rather than trying to take over TV, what Democrats need to do is
continue marching and speaking and advocating through this medium. And
they need to start fighting for this medium as well.
Because this medium is under threat, from many directions. From the copyright police.
From the Bell monopoly. From governments large and small all over the
world. And, as well, from criminals and terrorists of all kinds.
A true political revolution starts with a rational, pro-freedom
Internet Policy. The real revolution will not be televised. The movie
will only be made later. For the first time in many, many generations,
this revolution will be read.
We are all warriors on this medium, and once we understand that, we’re halfway home.