Saturday, February 27, 2010

Government as Threat

According to a new CNN poll:
A majority of Americans think the federal government poses a threat to the rights of Americans, according to a new national poll.

There's the usual, tired "partisan divide."  About 37 percent of Dems see the feds as a threat, but 63 percent of independents think so.  And Republicans?  Seven out of 10 GOPers agree the federal government is a threat.

No questions about mysterious black helicopters, as far as I can tell.

Hosting a tea party, anyone?

Aside from being interesting, this raises an interesting theoretical question.  A successful and functioning democracy relies on a reservoir of goodwill from the public, or so goes the theory.  As that reservoir is drawn down more than it is refilled, things can go very wrong (or very right, I suppose, depending on your anarchist leanings).  Of course from a journalism perspective this is great because, let's face it, a perceived threat makes for a great story.  And if there is one consistent journalism bias, it's for a great story.

Ultimately what can we make of this?

I suspect some of this is the media feeding this sense of threat, which increases the sense of threat, which feeds more media coverage of this sense of threat.  Certain bloviators on radio and TV spread further fuel to the fire, which keeps the circle going on and on until the whole thing will eventually collapse on itself -- at least for most normal people.  What bursts the bubble?  Usually some other major "rally around the flag" incident, or some TV/radio talk host pushes it too far, or a crazy guy flies a plane into a building.  Then the storyline becomes why are we so afraid and who are these wingnuts?  And the frenzy feeds on itself and that becomes the framework of a new set of stories.

Gotta love it.  Keeps journalists and TV/radio bloviators (and bloggers) employed and something to talk/write/bloviate about.

No comments: