What do The Republican Party, Professional Wrestling, Fox News Channel, and Rush Limbaugh all have in common?

Early in his career Rush Limbaugh repeatedly told his audience that he was a performer and an entertainer. But somewhere a line was crossed. Either his audience was too ill-equipped to understand what he meant and elevated him to a status beyond being an entertainer to that of being a leader.

Entertainment permeates all facets of our society. We like to be entertained whether its sports, news, politics, etc, we clamor for the dramas of the soup operas we were raised on. Entrepreneurs discovered many years ago that if you wrap boring things in entertainment, one could sell them in very lucrative ways. The most obvious example is the world of Sports Entertainment, a type of spectacle which presents an ostensibly competitive event using a high level of theatrical flourish and extravagant presentation, with the purpose of entertaining an audience. The primary service provided by Sports Entertainment is the performance. Commonly, but not in all cases, the outcomes are predetermined. Events falling under the classification of Sports Entertainment are widely considered to be low-brow forms of entertainment.

Several news channels discovered that by making news entertaining could make it more marketable, thus the birth of News Entertainment. Then the politicians discovered Politics Entertainment. And on it goes. Some entrepreneurs have been really innovative and have been successful in integrating several forms of entertainment like News and Politics into one cohesive package. Americans like to be entertained and many are too lazy to do the requisite research to develop informed and rationale opinions. Is there a similarity in the audiences that follow Sports Entertainment and those that follow Politics and News Entertainment?

Some Sports Entertainment events are forms of actual sports, such as exhibition basketball with the Harlem Globetrotters Association. Others are modifications of sport for entertainment like professional wrestling provided by World Wrestling Entertainment, and roller derby which is derived from roller skating.

Within professional wrestling the term kayfabe is used to describe the portrayal of events within the industry as “real”, genuine, or not worked. Kayfabe is often seen as the suspension of disbelief that is used to create the non-wrestling aspects of promotions, such as feuds, angles, and gimmicks, in a similar manner with other forms of entertainment such as the drama in soap opera or film.

Wrestling characters are distinguished as faces and heels. Faces are heroic type characters whose personalities are crafted to elicit the support of the audience through traits such as humbleness, a hard working nature, perseverance, and reciprocal love of the crowd. Faces usually win matches on the basis of their technical skills and are sometimes portrayed as underdogs to enhance the story. Heels are antagonist type characters, villains if you will, whose personalities are crafted to elicit a negative response from the audience. They often embrace traditionally negative traits such as narcissism/egomania, unprompted rage, sadism, and general bitterness. Heels typically inspire boos from the audience and often employ underhanded tactics, such as cheating and exploiting technicalities, in their fighting strategies.

News Entertainment follows the Sports Entertainment model closely. Often what is considered news is presented in a manner which makes those watching feel as if it is genuine and real. To maintain the entertainment aspect, news stories are always presented in dramatic fashions with trumped up theatrics, villains, and heroes associated with the news story. These dramas are played out daily on channels dedicated to News Entertainment.

An indication is the proliferation of cable news opinion shows which are advertised as genuine news shows but are simply modifications of traditional newscasts for entertainment purposes. Newscasts were once media resources by which information was reported. News Entertainment shows are modified forms whereby the news acts only as a prop for entertainment. The commentator becomes the central figure and his opinions become the story and not the news that is presented.

News Entertainment can convince an average American who was just given a tax break to get out and campaign against taxes. It can convince average Americans who benefit from government programs such as Medicare/Medical to go out and campaign against government managed programs. Finally, it can convince average Americans who take mortgage interest deductions each year to lower their tax liability to campaign against tax deductions. News Entertainment is where life truly imitates the arts.

The world of Politics especially the Republican Party employs the Sports Entertainment model to create its version of Politics Entertainment. Politics Entertainment was heavily employed in the 2008 political campaign season by the Republican Party and it continues to employ it even after the election. During the 2008 political campaign Conservatives/Republicans were armed for a fierce battle with Hillary Clinton. There was no bigger villain than the wife of their archenemy, Bill Clinton. Except Barack Obama surfaced and totally rendered their strategy ineffective. They had to change the script so that Barack Obama was the villain or the heel. The entire essence of the Republican Party campaign against Barack Obama was that he was a villain and someone who could not to be trusted. This script carries forth today in their approach towards him as the President. He is a villain and not to be trusted. Even our former Vice President Cheney says so.

This script makes it extremely easy for Conservatives/Republicans to attack everything and to say no to everything because to them this is only an act in some drama between villains and heroes. Did you ever wonder why it is so easy to convince someone like Sarah Palin to say the things that she said on the campaign trail about Barack Obama? Did you wonder why it was so easy to convince a supposedly very smart and intelligent Bobby Jindal to utter the outright foolishness that he did in response to the President’s state of the union message? Do you ever wonder why it is so easy to convince someone like Michelle Bachman to ramble off the most ignorant statements ever made from an educated person? Did you wonder how the Republican Party could parade a cartoon character around called Joe the Plumber and have people believe that he was really real? Finally, did you wonder how it was so easy to convince Paul Ryan to present that ridiculous Republican Budget?

Well all of these things can happen in a play. Each of the above individuals fills a role in the Republican Party’s political drama. It is all about Politics Entertainment and the suspension of reality however our nation’s problems are real and solving them will make us uncomfortable. We cannot afford to sit around and be entertained by newsmen and politicians while our nation’s institutions continue to hell in a hand basket. I know that News Entertainers are funny and watching and listening to them is a great pastime but it is time for us to get off of our lazy tails, fix this nation, start developing individual informed opinions, and turn the TV off.

So is it safe to say that the type of individual who believes professional wrestling is real are also those who believe the messages delivered by Rush Limbaugh, the Republican Party, and newscasters from News Entertainment channels?

Wildweezle(© Wildweezle Enterprises)

Published in: on May 11, 2009 at 6:30 pm  Comments (1)  
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Where Will the Opposition Come From?

As the American Political System transforms, evolves, and moves forward there is however a wasteland where failed ideas, opinions, strategies, and politicians are cast aside. That wasteland contains many notables such as Richard Nixon, Ross Perot, and Spiro T Agnew, Mark Foley, the list is long; Hillary Clinton’s original health plan; the original Iraq War Strategy, and a viable third party in US politics, all seemed at the time to be well thought out and possibly successful, but were later discredited. Well that junkyard is about to get some more scrap heap in the way of political strategy and methodologies, politicians, and political obstructionist if the 2008 presidential election goes the way it is going two days prior to the election.

As the election season draws to a close with the possibility of major change in the air, a change that the electorate hungers for, a change that could grant ruling party status in both the executive and legislative branches of our government. The American electorate hungers for an effective government, a responsive government, and an efficiently run government so it seems to be flexing its power in this election cycle by this authority to the Democratic Party. The Electorate seems to have matured and transformed and does not fear the prospects of a Democratic President and a Democratic majority Congress.

The electorate also hungers for effective and responsive opposition. But to the American Electorate, opposition is not obstruction. For years the electorate has witnessed our government paralyzed by the obstructionist processes of our political institutions which have caused deterioration of our political institutions and its operations. The opposition view can be best described using the table view principle. Place objects on a square table and seat a person at each end of the table. Ask each to draw and describe what they see on the table. The responses you receive will be different. Why, because each person will have a different viewpoint of the table. In some cases the responses could be the same depending on what is seen and how it is viewed. The importance is that viewpoints are not right or wrong (left or right) but necessary in order to understand the makeup of the table. The most complete picture is in the combination of all of the viewpoints of the table.

For 30 – 40 years it has been chic to define opposition as being obstructionist even manifesting itself in our media where several news organizations have willingly participated in this strategy. The definition of opposition is not the person or group whose focus is resistance, combat, antagonism, and hostility. It is the person or group that provides the opposing view designed to ensure that a more complete view is attained at all times. The value of the opposition party is to present those viewpoints that are different from the dominant party to ensure the complete picture. The American Electorate has transformed and it defines opposition far differently than the media and certainly the McCain campaign defines it.

Those practicing obstruction strive to IMPEDE, DELAY, BLOCK, and UNDERMINE the political process as with the use of the filibuster as a weapon rather than a tool in a Congress that isn’t veto-proof. Because the definition of opposition has changed, the electorate doesn’t fear the possibility of a veto-proof Congress because it has seen the stalemates for many years in our political institutions and find them no longer acceptable. Opposition is not the action of Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh, Pat Buchannan, and Bill O’Reilly, these are obstructionists whose actions do not bring value to the smooth execution of the government process but seeks to undermine differing viewpoints causing chokepoints in our government. It is safe to say that attempts to undermine any possible Obama presidency are underway in full swing.

So where is that opposition going to come from? Do you get the sense that it will not come from the current Republican Party? A party with a clear leadership vacuum; A party that has demonstrated that it does not understand transformation; A party that refused to refine the strategy and messages that were being delivered during this election cycle; A party that went in with a strategy to discredit Barack Obama at all levels, from the presidency down to local campaigns. Their message and party was rejected by the greater electorate but they stuck to it even to the point where it seems as if they are about to ride it over a cliff. Colin Powell described this strategy and the message as nonsensical.

The leadership failings of the current Republican Party are dramatic. This leadership vacuum allowed the selection of Sarah Palin as the VP candidate when there were numerous qualified individuals available for nomination. The Republican Party does not realize the size of the hole that was dug here. The electorate overwhelmingly rejected Sarah Palin and what will the other qualified individuals who were not selected do? They will in 4 years ask us to consider casting our vote for them. However, none of these individuals will be able to convince the electorate that they are worthy because in this year’s election they were deemed to be less qualified than Sarah Palin, who is perhaps the most embarrassing and least qualified candidate ever.

So where will our opposition politics come from?

Judging from this year’s response to Ralph Nader is he still effective?

Should the Republican Party have a Come-to-Jesus, evaluate itself, perhaps change, split, or just dissolve?

There could be a ray of hope out there. Over the past several weeks we’ve seen numerous Republicans and conservatives come out in support of Barack Obama. Many of those endorsements could be considered protest endorsements but for the majority most were the results of well thought-out analysis and presented in a manner that was professional and respectful of our political system. These endorsements have come from individuals, groups, and organizations.

So where are the seeds of our parliamentary and social opposition for the next governing cycle?

So let’s explore?

Michael Smerconish, a registered Republican and conservative talk radio host broke with 28 years of personal tradition and decided to endorse Barack Obama. In the era of political party allegiance this is a mortal sin as witnessed by the amount of messages disagreeing with his decision and choice. But could there be a silver lining in Mr. Smerconish’s action? I think so. Mr. Smerconish two days prior to Mr. Conlin Powell’s endorsement of Barack Obama released the results of the analysis that led him to his decision. His analysis included several categories of interest, such as leadership, analytical abilities, foreign policy, etc. It was an extremely detailed analysis and I’m sure that Mr. Smerconish knew that he would encounter allegiance issues if he were to accept the conclusions of his analysis and endorse Mr. Obama. But Mr. Smerconish demonstrated leadership and strength and did what was required of him in supporting the best solution.

So Michael Smerconish had an America First Moment (AFM), defined as behaving in a manner that takes into consideration the effects of personal behavior and decisions on the American Community prior to acting. Michael’s willingness to consider the American Community was a true America First Moment. But will Mr. Smerconish have the enabling infrastructure in which to present his opposition views in the Republican Party; If not the Republican Party then where? Mr. Smerconish’s support of Mr. Obama was critical but his opposition views will be more critical.

The most visible of the cross-over endorsements was of course Colin Powell. Mr. Powell’s endorsement of Barack Obama like Mr. Smerconish’s was extremely well thought-out. He even mentioned that he toiled over his decision for months. Mr. Powell gave a comprehensive endorsement of Barack Obama. He listed his reasons in a clear, concise, and succinct manner so all could see which categories were important to him and how he arrived at this important decision

Colin Powell showed the utmost respect to our nation, and its political institutions, and to the men and women who have died granting us the opportunity to vote and some who will give their lives today in far-away lands to guarantee our rights to vote. Colin Powell did not belittle the process by standing on his front porch and shouting out his endorsement of Mr. Obama. Mr. Powell labored over this decision for many months by spending the time researching and analyzing the behavior and character of both candidates and only then did he arrive at his decision. This type of analysis was lost on Tom Brokow, Pat Buchannan, and Rush Limbaugh who entertained the thought that his decision was based on race. Mr. Powell’s actions were clearly an American First Moment!

So Mr. Powell becomes another possible opposition because he has emphatically stated that he remains a Republican and if the Republican Party survives it will be important for Mr. Powell to be a key voice of opposition.

We now visit the media as a voice of opposition. Barack Obama has dominated media endorsements. We focus on many which are well known as conservative and have endorsed Republican candidates in recent elections:

1.       The Denver Post

2.       The Chicago Tribune

3.       Austin American-Statesman

4.       The Salt Lake Tribune

5.       Wisconsin State Journal

6.       Houston Chronicle

It is the Houston Chronicle that we will focus on because the endorsements of the other newspapers followed the same analysis that was so detailed in the Houston Chronicle. The Houston Chronicle known as a conservative media outlet, analyzed several categories of concern prior to reaching a decision: VP Choice; Terrorism; Economy; Opportunity; taxes, Healthcare; Social Concerns; Intellect and temperament; Ability to build coalitions; Foreign Policy; Analytical thinking; etc. In all cases with the exception of terrorism the Houston Chronicle arrived at the conclusion that Barack Obama was the most capable candidate.

Opposition will demand that a substantial portion of our news media offer vigilance over a possible one rule government. As long as the opposition being presented is the different viewpoints of the problem space then the American Public will benefit substantially and the media could be an important enabling infrastructure and platform for the presentation of opposition views.

Once again, opposition in the media is not the actions of Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh, Pat Buchannan, and Bill O’Reilly. Obstructionism will not find a place in the politics of our future. Our media should be finding ways to enable opposition viewpoints now and not ways to enable the undermining of our government institutions.

This is just a small analysis of the potential opposition resources that could play a key role in our future governing body. There are many other possible voices such as well known conservatives like Christopher Buckley, members of the Goldwater family, and others who will have to find or provide the enabling infrastructure in which to present opposition views especially if the Republican Party fails to transform itself.

Regardless, on November 5, 2008 when the RENAISSANCE begins, our government will not operate as it has in the past and each of us will have a responsibility to ensure its success. The difference will come in those who will take ownership!

Wildweezle (© Wildweezle Enterprises)