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A 2016 Election Theory

Like any election, the 2016 election is fascinating and exciting because it makes you want to move out of the country since everyone involved is a fucking insane person who could potentially ruin your life as a president. Democracy inaction action in Democracy! This go around is particularly fascinating because everything feels like it is in ruins. We are staring into a dark hole of red, white, and blue that may potentially darken to a gray nothing.

What’s going on with politics? You got crazy impossibles like Trump and left fielders like Sanders. Then there are refreshing WTF? people like Fiorina and veterans like Clinton. There are threats from both Romney and Biden and you feel like, “¯\_(ツ)_/¯ politics ¯\_(ツ)_/¯” Political person Ezra Klein has taken to his news baby Vox to share his theory on 2016.

And? It’s interesting. It’s what you could say of everything in the world. It also shows us that Klein hasn’t had his breakout moment of this election cycle yet. Maybe this is it? Here’s what he thinks:

So here’s a hypothesis — raw, incomplete, and potentially incorrect — for why politics has been so surprising this year: The tools that party insiders use to decide both electoral and legislative outcomes are being weakened by new technologies and changing media norms. And so models of American politics that assume the effectiveness of those tools — models that weight elite opinion heavily, and give outsiders and insurgents little chance — have been thrown off.

You could say this about Hollywood, music, tech, writing, etc.: this logic applies to anything. The models have all dissolved at the hands of technology. It’s exciting! It’s fucking horrifying, too. When you see that the things that hold a massive something together—like a country—can be untied because news is spread much easier, you realize that things weren’t actually tied tightly to begin with. Scary. I’m going to pretend that I never led myself to this conclusion and that Klein’s optimism in the rebalancing of the “throwing off” will happen.

And if they don’t? Cool. Or not cool? I don’t know. Here’s why it’s a little uncomfortable and scary…

The media, meanwhile, is much more competitive than it’s been in previous decades. Fox News barely existed before the 2000 election. BuzzFeed News didn’t exist until the 2008 election. The profusion of outlets trying different coverage strategies, the tremendous amount of feedback about what audiences actually like, and the all-against-all war for attention has led to more coverage of candidates who make for good stories and comparatively less coverage for candidates who are powered by a good reputation among party elites; this is why Donald Trump is by far the most-covered candidate of either party this cycle, while Rick Perry was beloved by insiders but mostly ignored on the trail.

#millennialnews #listicles #stupidpeopleonline #realityshowworld: this is going to be what dictates us. People can swarm easier and point and point and point until everyone on your Facebook is pointing because they saw someone else point. The hive mind and cultish fan groups are great until you realize that the fucking Beyhive or whatever ridiculous fan group mob mentality can be applied to politics. Then again, was there any other way? Isn’t this just a perfect example of a humanoid ant swarm of ideology acting as it can, should, and will act? Isn’t that what the Catholic church does every election?

This is a joyous and scary moment. 2016 is not interesting because of the politicians involved: 2016 is interesting because the people at home are writing the future in their own bizarre clicktivist way. Yay?

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