Why Political Polarization Has Gone Wild – Coursework Example
Memorandum July 25, Daily Editor RE: Political Polarization in the Media Polarization from both sides of the political spectrum has reached what some believe is a critical mass of uncompromising purists. Fareed Zakaria cites a number of examples present both in the government and among activitists that support the observation of increasing polarization between liberals and conservatives1.
One of these examples is non-partisan redistricting, which is a theory that if districts in the House are changed such that each party has safe seats, there will be less polarization between the parties on Capitol Hill. Unfortunately, political polarization happens moreso on radio waves and in town hall meetings.
One might argue that we should all be disappointed without politicians for pandering, but ultimately, in a democracy, our politicians are representatives of the people. It is not the politicians who cause their supporters to be more extreme; rather, it is the other way around. There is a reason why the people who elect Congressmen to their seats are called “the base.”
Without 24-hour media, there would not be such an extreme response to certain policy discussions and, in turn, our politicians would not be driven to such extreme rhetoric on the House floor, if they knew no one was paying attention. But a constant attention to the activities and ideologies of our politicians encourages them, out of a desire to keep their jobs, to pander to their base.
The media, including newspapers, play a key role in this. By focusing solely on the extreme elements in order to keep people reading and watching, the media feeds a consumer demand for polarized politics: a soap opera playing out on the evening news. This is what Fareed Zakaria refers to as “narrowcast”. Certain radio programs and news networks come to be read only by individuals with particular ideological dispositions. Instead of appealing to a general audience with objective information, media twists information in a way that they can sell the best.
So, how does a media institution like a newspaper play a role in fixing excessively adversarial politics? It can start by taking the facts of reality and presenting them to the whole world in an objective and socially responsible way. Rather than focusing on the small dramas of political debates, a newspaper can present the whole picture and allow its readers to decide.
The media plays a crucial role in keeping voters informed in our democracy. If the media defaults on its responsibility, then our system of governance will not be far behind.