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It’s ‘just’ politics.

September 21, 2007

“What must be made absolutely clear … is that politics is not somehow unreal or false because it is freighted with symbols and visualized in images. We cannot somehow dismiss showmanship, political ritual, speeches, and televised debates as ‘mere politics.’ Politics, after all, is a human or social activity.” Arthur Miller & Bruce Gronbeck, 1994*.

For the past two weeks, our Dissident Media class has been throwing around one particularly hard-to-pronounce word: hegemony**. Partly, this is because we’d been assigned to read Stephen Brookfield’s “The Power of Critical Theory,”*** a treatise with an apparent fondness for particularly hard-to-pronounce words.

More importantly, it’s because our eyes are being opened to the fact that there are many presumptions and suppositions we make in life that we simply take for granted as the results of a natural course of thinking. Turns out, more often than not, that these natural conclusions are the results of sub-conscious manipulation. We’re socialized to perceive normally illogical or intolerable ideas as acceptable, even ideal, to uphold the social, civil, and financial interests of the ruling group- i.e., the hegemon.

Is it much of a stretch then to wonder if we’re also being socialized to uphold the political interests of the hegemon? Political apathy runs rampant in this country. It wouldn’t take much for me to convince you of that. The prevailing sentiment seems to be that politicians can’t be trusted, and neither can the game. ‘It’s just politics,’ many say.

Just politics. Why is it that instead of demanding more, we decide to expect less from the process? Who made the decision that lowering our expectations was the way to go, and why are so many buying into it?

Is America ‘just’ a land of pessimists? No. Apathists? Doubt it. Americans are frustrated. That’s a given… but that’s no excuse to give up. We need to channel our frustration into revamping the political process in this country; we need to take it back from the consultants, the corporations, and the PR personnel.

It’s time we step up and assume a bigger role in the show.

* http://www.wfu.edu/~louden/Political%20Communication/poltitle.html
** http://www.webster.com/cgi-bin/dictionary?book=Dictionary&va=Hegemony&x=0&y=0
*** http://www.amazon.com/Power-Critical-Theory-Liberating-Learning/dp/0787956015

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