Friday, August 27, 2010

There's opinion, and there's opinion

A new CBS poll finds that a majority of Americans, of all self-described and institutionally categorized mainstream political identities, want higher taxes on the wealthy.  It is now incumbent upon the mainstream media to teach us why this poll means nothing.  The general principle to remember: Polls with progressive conclusions don't matter; polls showing increasing preference towards Republicans (who two years ago were consigned to the dustbin of history, and who really are on that trajectory*, despite their recent ill-gotten gains) do matter, because the media has to teach us a few lessons between now and the November bloodbath.

Remember, though, the CBS poll on taxes means nothing.  It means nothing precisely because, not in spite of, its indication of public support for more egalitarian tax and fiscal policy (as Daily Kos reminded readers when discussing tax cuts, remember the 60-70% of the public, including a majority of Republicans, who wanted a public health care plan). It cannot be allowed to mean anything because the public doesn't get to really discuss economic issues.  There is very little left left in the mainstream media, but a whole lot of left left in the streets, in community activist networks, and in the alternative media.  The mainstream media uses its own agenda-setting as evidence of the nonpopulation of egalitarian activism in legitimate politics.  This allows Barack Obama a free pass to do things like derisively kick Single Payer off the table, so that the "pragmatists" in the center-right Democratic party and their media defenders can rise to his defense when the GOP calls him a commie anyway. (Most polls that bothered to ask the question prior to Obamacare, by the way, showed majority support for Single Payer Health Care.)

A majority support cap and trade. A majority support tough financial reforms, regardless of talk about how such regulations kill the free market (they're anemic compared to the damage unregulated markets can do, and they DON'T kill "free markets" whatever those are).  The entire process of health care reform legislation consistently traveled against the public tide--but not the direction the mainstream media created, practically out of whole cloth.    

Instead, it's the ideological minority that matters to the mainstream media, evidenced by their over-coverage, and uncritical narrative-spinning, concerning the corporate-created Tea Partiers.*  The result of this filtering and appealing to the lowest common denominator as a matter of both form and content is an electorate that hates the Democrats and favors the policies normally associated with them.

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*On the Tea Parties: Even Chris Matthews is entitled to be right about something once or twice a year:
They want to tear the country apart if it will relieve them of the duty of living in modern America, which I truly believe, despite all their anger, continues its march towards making this a more progressive land. That's something they just can't stand.

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