Forgotten platforms and political attention

Yesterday, I watched part of the 7 hours of testimony from Robert Mueller in front of two different congressional committees. It made me wonder about the amount of attention that is being paid to politics in general at all levels of government. My thoughts wandered to ponder if more people were watching and enjoying ESPN than the hearinings. The attention of people rated in viewership is typically evaluated in terms of how passionate those viewers happen to be at the time. Fans of sporting teams that watch ESPN are typically reasonably passionate about something. That might be one specific team or maybe everything related to an entire city or maybe even a region. Politics are complex and getting even more complex every day. Trying to divide that complexity into two main voting categories that has no index for passion remains deflating.

That is the point in this thought exercise that seems to stand out to me. Maybe it is an inflection point that snuck up slowly or maybe it is just suddenly ours and very real. The example under consideration is a comparison between what it takes to become a sports fan of typical team vs. what it takes to really become active in a political party. My guess is that throughout the United States more people are actively supporting sporting teams on a daily basis than a specific political party. That is a line of inquiry that is really driving me toward some research questions around local government engagement levels. Understanding civil society has been a passion of mine since before I started to reflect on the intersection of technology and modernity. For better or worse the social fabric that binds us together and informs how we relate is built on the foundation of civil society.

One of the things that I have spent some time reading over the years are party platforms. Maybe the one that caught my attention the most was the 1960 party platform of JFK. It is pretty easy to figure out the trajectory of your local sports team. They are actively winning or losing and you can get a sense for how close they are to contending for a championship. Trying to figure out the trajectory of a political party and what exactly that party is trying to accomplish is really hard in a world full of very short soundbites that lack context or any real degree of directionality in terms of where the argument is going. Sitting down and reading an entire party platform is a real commitment. Figuring out where all 20 candidates that are running for president stand within the context of that platform would be a daunting task. My honest assessment would be that they all probably do not have defined positions or have throughout out exactly where they stand on the entire platform.

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