1. This article is an analysis of current public ratings of the republican and democrat candidates for the upcoming presidential election. I chose it because I want to know how many people are really considering Trump as a viable candidate and what type of people they are, which the article answered for me.
2. The articles states the research came from a “Post-ABC News poll” taken on Sept 7-10 “among a random national sample of 1,003 adults, including landline and cellphone respondents. Overall results have a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points”
3. How did they determine what was a random sampling of the population? Would people who answer phone calls and take surveys have different political viewpoints than those who don’t?
To consider the question of whether being a democratic citizen meant something different to my parents at my age and their parents at my age, the best source I could think to consult was my dad. I’ve read a number of scholarly articles and understand the general sentiments about trends in civic engagement today. Some lament that 20-somethings today are apathetic or just disinterested in politics. Others claim that youth of today are more engaged than previous generations, just in different forms.
Before talking with my father I had in mind the impact that media has had on the political involvement of my peers and I. My dad’s observations were that it seems that today we can find out so much more information on the Internet, but when he was young, the primary source of political information was the six o’clock news. At the same time, however, he thinks that my generation seems to not be very well informed. One thing that influences this opinion is the frequent examples of young people on television or the radio not being able to explain the difference between Republicans and Democrats or even to name presidents.
Overall, my dad concluded that his parents seemed much more knowledgeable about and engaged in politics than either himself and his friends or myself and my peers. My grandpa helped to elect a Republican Congressman in the 1960s, attended meetings and made phone calls. This kind of political involvement seems exceptional for someone of my generation. My grandpa was older than 20-something at this point, but I think that his political interests at 20-something certainly led to this kind of involvement. My dad said that he was not very involved or interested in the political process when he was in college. The biggest controversy he recalls is the Watergate scandal, which seemed to develop anti-Nixon sentiments, but these did not match the intensity and nature of political involvement during the 1960s and the Vietnam War.
These descriptions point to similarities between my dad’s generation and my generation. It seems that political involvement from young people only becomes especially energetic when a major crisis or change occurs, as in the Iraq war or the Obama campaign. But even though many people are upset about the Iraq War, it hasn’t seemed to cause political involvement quite like that we hear about and see pictures of during the 1960s. I think this has to do with our increased peripheral awareness of world affairs; we have more knowledge about so many things that our interests are spread thinner or we just become hopeless about our potential to be a part of real change.
With the technological world continuing to expand it is no wonder that online political activism is as well. Take a look at the study available online by the Pew Internet and American-Life Project.
Nearly all traditional forms of civic activity are stratified by socio-economic status. That is, as income and educational levels increase, so do community involvement, political activism, and other types of civic engagement. This stratification holds not only for offline political acts but also for political participation online.
The numbers stay the same in terms of demographics influencing involvement. What the article does not highlight and what I want to know is which type of involvement is more effective. Online or “Real Life”? I believe each has their benefits that could be seen as more effective. For example, actually physically seeing support a large crowd at a rally could boost moral support compared to “liking” a particular candidate on Facebook. All the while, it is more convenient for citizens not as involved to participate online. For example they could donate to their respected party from the following websites or catch up on issues with the click of a button as opposed to having to attend an event.
So how do these reasons affect my opinion on whether or not online political involvement is the same as “real life” political involvement? I do not think that they are the same because of the two different environments. However, I also do not think that one is particularly better than the other. They both have their unique strengths.
While The Daily Show and Colbert Report may not be considered political news in the traditional sense, both shows do indeed promote political action. It’s a subtle promotion, but it’s also brilliant. Since both shows cover current events within the political realm, the assumption both shows make is that their audiences are aware of these current events. If they weren’t, the jokes wouldn’t land the shows wouldn’t last. But since both Stewart and Colbert have become the representatives of how younger people gather their news, with high ratings and awards, it’s obvious that the people watching it get the jokes. And the only way for people to get the jokes (outside of the easy dick jokes both make) is to be cognizant of what’s happening in the news in the first place. Without context, the jokes wouldn’t make sense. So, in order for audiences to really enjoy The Daily Show or Colbert Report, it’s necessary to understand the goings on in terms of the news and politics for the jokes to actually punch. This is how both shows promote political action. They may not have an outright agenda, but they do encourage audiences to know what’s going on, if for nothing else, so they can laugh at the jokes.
In terms of bias, during the joint Stewart/Colbert coverage of the election results during Indecision 2008, both comedians let their guards down with the announcement of Obama’s victory in the election. This breaking of character, especially on Colbert’s part, shows the elation both had that Obama had won the presidency. Though this doesn’t necessitate Stewart or Colbert’s liberalness, it’s evident that the guy they wanted to win, who happens to be a liberal Democrat, won, and they were clearly happy about it. Like all other human beings, they have their bias. But because they’re comedians first and informers second, it’s more acceptable that their bias be shown on the air than, say, someone from CNN or the like.
Additionally, the Rally to Restore Sanity was organized in direct response to Glenn Beck’s Restoring Honor rally. While it may be unfair to claim that it was a rally by liberals for liberals, the crowd was overwhelming liberal and the jokes told were aimed toward liberal ideologies. However, more interesting than the fact that this rally was in response to an overwhelmingly conservative moment was the general confusion over what Stewart’s rally was supposed to be doing. And as others have linked in their blogs, it wasn’t until Stewart explained that the rally was a wake up call to the media to calm down that the point was made.
Though the job of Stewart and Colbert is to satirize the media (a job it typically does well), they do have their own biases. For instance, Colbert supports an increase in immigrant rights in terms of work visas (which is a relatively liberal ideology) and testified as such in Congress, albeit in a tongue-in-cheek manner.
Stewart, too, admits a liberal point of view in terms of the show’s jokes. While this doesn’t mean The Daily Show won’t criticize the Obama administration, it’s much harder to find clips of Stewart criticizing Obama than it is of him criticizing the Bush Administration. And while this may be a function of his audiences’ interests, that his critique and comedy about the Republican Party and more conservative policies resonates more than his comedy about the Democratic Party and liberal policies shows his appeal as a liberal comedian.
In short, both shows are less political news shows and more critiques of the news, which is an important function in terms of providing information to the public. Both shows do have their biases based on which jokes the audience likes to hear and how both men, when not in character, react to happenings in the public forum. Finally, they promote political action because they have to in order for people to watch and enjoy the show. It’s hard to get the jokes if one doesn’t know what the joke is referencing, so though without an outright agenda and with a large amount of subtlety, both shows promote political participation.
If we’re being honest, most Democrats and Republicans are not aligned to a certain party because they have carefully weighed the pros and cons to both sides. Most people side with a party due to their upbringing, community, religion, or a combination of some or all of these factors. Therefore, I feel it does not truly matter if Democrats and Republicans get their news from different sources. I have staunchly Republican relatives married to staunchly Democrat ones, and, despite numerous attempts at conversion, neither side has been able to change the others’ political stance. If the bonds of marriage cannot change someone’s mind, I have serious doubts that one party member getting their information from the other side, or even from an “unbiased” source, will do so.
This isn’t to say peoples’ minds can’t be changed. I have plenty of friends who grew up in staunch conservative households, went to churches that preached a Republican agenda, and still wound up being Democrats after doing some research. I also know ex-Democrats who are now Republicans. However, when looking at both groups on a broad level, the majority of people I know were born into their party. Could people learn new things by occasionally perusing the other party’s news sources? Of course. This could also combat the extreme partisanship seen in politics today, as discussed in Chapter 12, and move our government towards a more bipartisan system. However, with today’s anger-fueled politics, many don’t even want to consider the other side’s viewpoint, much less read into it. And some partisan sources can be so scathing towards the other party that those party members may not have the patience to delve into them.
While I think it would be beneficial for Democrats and Republicans to get their information from a variety of sources, it isn’t realistic to expect them to. However, this isn’t a huge problem, because most party-aligned citizens take a stance based on factors other than news, and exposure to the opposite viewpoint usually won’t make a substantial difference in their worldview or opinions.
With the constant variety of news people have access to today, we have the option to choose where our news comes from and what views are advocated. Obviously, certain news sources have a reputation for leaning to the right, while others are known to lean left. This 2009 study from the Pew Research Center profiles the audiences of Fox News, CNN, and MSNBC based on their political views.
Predictably, republicans have a tendency to follow right-leaning sources and democrats do the opposite. I don’t think that this is a terrible thing, because people of specific viewpoints can get information and analysis that is pertinent and relevant to them. Following partisan news can, however, prevent people from forming their own opinions, as the talking heads on television are feeding them certain ideas. The fact that Republicans and Democrats get their news from different sources adds to political animosity between the parties. I’m not saying that people aren’t capable of taking the information they hear on TV and simply using it to inform their own views, but I am saying that following partisan news can have an influence over the way someone thinks. If Democrats and Republicans get their news from different, partisan sources, the gap between their positions will be reinforced through the media, but if people of both parties got their information either from the same source or various sources, the facts will take precedence and discourse can ensue.Obviously, not everyone simply follows just Fox News or CNN, but certain people do.
And in a hypothetical world in which everyone followed news that advocated their own political views, the overall political discourse would, in my opinion, suffer.
Is it an issue if Republicans get their political news from certain sources and the same for Democrats? No there is no issue and it shouldn’t matter. Any person that is part of a political party can turn on their television and go to a channel that is specifically catered to their party or the opposite party. Examples: cut on the television and go to Fox News or MSNBC. It is as simple as picking up your remote.
You want to go on the Internet and find political news? It is simple as clicking your browser and typing in CNN or going to Google and typing in conservative.
Why should it change? It is simple and not difficult whatsoever. It is the PEOPLE that are lazy and don’t want to switch up their political news sources. There is no need to form the two or it being wrong that there are two separate sides for political news. There is nothing in our laws that says that you CAN’T go to both sides…Nothing AT ALL. So our system works it just people are apathetic or they are simply not wanting to go to see what the other side is saying.
Honestly people need to get over this gang warfare between the parties and attempt to see what the other side is saying to help themselves be more informed.
Democracy. Not dictatorship. We have the ability to choose and see. Let’s do it.