The New Bubble

This week’s Courier Herald Column:

There is a long held notion that one of the problems with Washington DC is that those who live there are trapped in a bubble of their own making.  The inhabitants within the beltway suffer from a group-think.  They do not interact enough with the rest of America, but instead limit their ideas to only those that could be created and sustained by those who live and breathe Washington culture.  The result is a group of leaders who are out of touch with the rest of America.

In the age of the internet, it has been much easier to combat the beltway bubble.  Social media has allowed anti-Washington activists to find each other, and present a united front of ideas to challenge those that emanate from the status quo.

Those of us on the right no longer have to rely on a steady diet of news produced from left-leaning DC insiders.  We have Fox News, talk radio, and a myriad of personalities scattered across the internet from which to glean our information.  And in the process of uniting via alternate news delivery sources, we have created our own bubble.

Too many of us wear as a badge of honor that we will only listen to those we agree with.  Rather radio, cable news, or preferred web addresses we have self-selected the sources of our information to the point that we are no longer informed, but rather affirmed in our beliefs.

Too many that inhabit these places of our attention are more interested in ratings and the ad revenue that comes with them to risk challenging the audience with new ideas or upsetting them with the presentation of contrarian views.  Instead, there is a constant drumbeat of affirmation to assure the viewer/listener/reader that their views are pure, intellectually sound, and morally justified.

We are told that if we agree with our kind hosts, that we are then “intelligent thinkers”. Republican partisans who do not carry the message of the minute are RINOs. Other voters who do not agree with us are “low information voters”.

It is becoming a less than subtle practice from within the bubble to immediately reject any alternate views beyond our own group think on the grounds that only our views are of the informed variety.  Any other opinion is presumed to be based in evil or ignorance until proven otherwise.

The move to isolate ourselves within a protective shield is self-limiting.  The only way to change the things we spend so much time informing ourselves about is to win elections.  And while it is inherent that in order to do this we must take a majority of votes, we are instead taking a counterintuitive approach of trying to make the group we surround ourselves with smaller.

When we refer to those who disagree with us as “low information voters”, we are essentially saying they are stupid.  More often than not, if you’re asking someone to do something and you lead by telling them that they are stupid, they aren’t going to be cooperative.  This should be obvious.  Unless you’re trapped in bubble-think.

Furthermore, those who spend the time in the bubble and play by the bubble’s rules are now adopting a smug sense of superiority and entitlement.  This new brand of establishment believes that more pure candidates are needed to win majorities and are pushing for ways to change the nomination process to ensure “better” candidates.

Virginia will likely see most of its statewide elected offices transfer from Republican to Democratic hands next week after choosing their nominees by Convention instead of by primary.  A movement to do the same here in Georgia has thus far failed to gain traction but still lingers.

For Republicans to move forward toward national majorities again, we’re going to have to do an honest self-assessment of our own bubble.  We cannot allow our attention to focus inward on ourselves while alienating the independent voters we so desperately need to win elections.

There was once a time when we prided ourselves on being the party of ideas.  We now allow ourselves to be led by those who find it easier to pander to a caricature of what we call “the base” rather than lead with positive solutions that define a specific path for change.  In order for this to happen, we first must pop the bubble.

23 comments

  1. Scott65 says:

    As I have said here many times, republicans have been living in a bubble…and most people outside that bubble looking in see a very different picture than those in the bubble. Of course, now your a RINO. One thing you didnt say is that in search of ratings these outlets dismiss facts as well. Unfortunately for republicans in GA, they are going to have to get a big dose of reality when it comes to the Senate race and GA elects a democrat…I’ll go with what I said a year ago…Broun or Gingrey…democrat will be elected

    • peachstealth says:

      Republican probably do live in a bubble, but so do Democrats.
      When it comes to elections the question is, who’s bubble is bigger.

      • seenbetrdayz says:

        Or whose bubble has shrunken less, might be another way of putting it, seeing as how elections are being decided by fewer and fewer proportions of eligible voters.

  2. peachstealth says:

    >>>When we refer to those who disagree with us as “low information voters”, we are essentially saying they are stupid.<<<

    If I were calling them stupid, I'd say " stupid voters." Stupid is for life, low information can be fixed. They may be brilliant people who just don't pay attention to politics.
    Low information does not refer to committed liberals / progressives who voted for Obama because they support his policies.
    It refers to people who voted for Obama because they thought it would be cool to have a black president, no matter his policies. Just go to youtube and look for Obama Voters and you'll see who I'm talking about.

  3. analogkid says:

    This is a great piece Charlie.

    Earlier today I had a conversation with a Republican friend who rails against the “liberal media” but who freely forwards obviously specious and deceptive Newsmax articles.

    The good news is that the Republican party has probably reached its nadir. How long it stays there is the question.

  4. Dave Bearse says:

    The MSM overall leans left editorially. There is some overall bias in news reporting too (what’s covered and what’s not), and a bit of spin.

    Conservatives hurt themselves when they rejected MSM because of a little left bias and embraced Fox News and far right talk radio fantasy. From what I read about Fox News’ 2012 Presidential election day coverage, it was as much wishful thinking drama gone bad as it was factual analysis. Even so, 12 months later the bubble is a strong as ever, perhaps even more so.

    I gave up watching Fox News two-three years ago because of its slick mixture of news and partisanship/entertainment, even though some of the news coverage was good, because the distinction in memory over time between news and partisanship / entertainment blurs. (FWIW, I’ve never regularly watched MSNBC.) I get conservatives views and facts from other places, like here for instance, where the distinction between views and facts is much less likely to blur in memory.

    • seenbetrdayz says:

      A little left bias? Do you recall the whole “lean forward” nonsense from MSNBC? That was pure, unadulterated siding with the Obama administration. It was like the government’s own news network.

      They seem to have cut back on it substantially, perhaps because people realized just how ridiculous it was.

  5. John Konop says:

    Very good article, one other factor is the gerrymandered districts. It promotes both sides pandering to the extreme, which feeds the 24 hour media cycle…..The more you pander you either win, an election in the district, or become part of the media. This has created a toxic environment, which promotes spewing at the other side over finding solutions. Irroncally, our country was designed to promote compromise, and respect minority views. The above has helped the media, but not the American people.

  6. DeKalb Wonkette says:

    The fact that Charlie can even broach the idea of a bubble is evidence that there isn’t one, at least insofar as he is concerned.

    Because of the work that I do, I interact often with people from the far left. Now THAT’s one impenetrable bubble!

  7. GreyFreeman says:

    As a moderate libertarian, I was lamenting to a conservative friend of mine about the lack of good conservative news sources to help me balance out the excellent-but-left-leaning information I get from NPR and The Guardian. My complaint was that FoxNews and talk radio were not really even trying to aspire to journalistic standards of balanced reporting. She pointed me to the Peach Pundit as a source of thoughtful and respectful conservative commentary. Looks like she didn’t lead me astray.

  8. benevolus says:

    There used to be a billboard on Marietta Blvd that only said : “Don’t trust the liberal media”.
    I thought it was the most brilliant billboard I’d ever seen. Even if you wanted to think of yourself as a moderate or centrist, you might be swayed to position yourself to the right of whatever you see in the mainstream media.

    Didn’t work on me though! 🙂 But I don’t trust anyone very much anyway.

  9. JeffHaffley says:

    I like Charlie’s comments on the bubble. Many on the right have forgotten the wise old saying “It is more important to understand than agree.” We must at least try to find out what makes our opponents think the way they do. We don’t have to agree with our opponents in order to understand them. Knowing how the opposition thinks is a critical tool in winning new converts. Through learning about them, we often discover that our opponents are right on some issues – often with the wrong motives – but still right.

    I must take some exception with his criticism of convention and caucuses. They provide a necessary check and balance to the “Money Primary” system. Utah has struck a good balance in that they have a convention to choose two candidates and a primary to choose a nominee from the two. This helps candidates who are not independently wealthy have a chance to compete with candidates who are either part of a political dynasty (Kennedy, Bush, and Clinton) or are semi-billionaires (Romney, Bloomberg, and Huntsman) or both.
    All and all it was a good article.

    • Dave Bearse says:

      There are only three Virginia Commonwealth Constitutional elected offices, Gov, Lt Gov & AG. All are currently held by Republicans. Charlie wrote most, but based on last week’s polling Democrats are likely to be elected to all three offices.

      Both houses of the VA General Assembly are two-thirds GOP. Even allowing that some of that margin is due to gerrymandering (which seems clear given VA went for Obama in 2008 and 2012), it’s significant that after changing to caucus if all three state offices are lost.

      • JeffHaffley says:

        FYI: the Virginia GOP has been using conventions and primaries for decades. Two out of three of the gubernatorial candidates nominated by primary, Marshall Coleman (a moderate) in 1989 and Jerry Killgore (a conservative) in 2005.

        The state GOP gets to choose which system it wants to use, which is the way it should be. Republicans are (or should) be the party of reasonable choices. The choice of a convention in this cycle was actually a wise tactical move. The VAGOP knew that there was no way that the dull LG Bolling was going to beat the AG rockstar in a primary. They did know that it would be very expensive and decisive for the party if they held a primary; so they decided to hold a convention. This insureded that Bolling would not run since he knew he had 0% chance at a convention. By choosing a convention, the VAGOP was able to save millions or dollars and an even more divided party. You can be sure that sometime down the road when party unity declares for primaries (like in 2012) the VAGOP will use them.

        If the GAGOP had this option we could save a great deal of money and unnessaary fighting in both the gubernatorial and senatorial primaries.

        In the end we everyone should the choice (caucus-primary-hybrid)

        PS: The AG gas been making great gains in the polls it is now very possible for him to win.

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