MTV influenced the culture for over a decade before 1992, when candidate Bill Clinton made an appearance on the network and changed national politics. Clinton was arguably the first president elected by MTV. Facebook appeared in 2004 and Twitter appeared in 2006, and in a much shorter time span social media helped twice elect Barack Obama.
My first post on this was intended to dissect (and mock) Obama’s shallow and narcissistic presidency, but the reality is that political opinion is being driven by shallow and narcissistic forms of media. (I say this as someone with a blog.) New forms of media have changed the culture, and with it the nation’s politics.
The most telling image to come out of Nelson Mandela’s funeral wasn’t the President shaking hands with Raul Castro or taking a selfie with David Cameron and Helle Thorning-Schmidt, but rather something the White House sent out via Twitter.
Everything happens within the context of Barack Obama. The significance of the handshake with Castro is that it’s a reminder that Obama thought that the combination of his greatness and a few nice words to our enemies would erase history, national interests and previous alliances. In other words, he is his own context that supersedes all of the contexts that came before him.
Which doesn’t work, obviously, and Obama’s policy record both here and abroad is proof of that. The problem is that we can make fun of this all we want, but Barack Obama was elected twice. Something that he’s doing is working, even if his presidency isn’t. Better ideas aren’t winning. Obamacare is here to stay barring something massive, the stimulus money is still gone and the United States is still being bullied by tin-pot dictators.
On MTV, Bill Clinton made an appeal to people who think stupid thoughts (“Boxers or briefs?”,) but Obama is successfully appealing to people who don’t think at all. These are the people who see great leadership in an infographic, and they vote. Should conservatives, without being nihilistic, attempt to swing some of these people?
Update: Linked by Doug Ross in a big roundup. Awesome.