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Introducing Thoughts of a Political Junkie

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William Hartnett

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There’s a speech in Aaron Sorkin’s show “The Newsroom” that inspired me for these future pieces. In it, Will McAvoy (Jeff Daniels) apologizes to his audience about the quality of his reporting and his broadcast in its ability report truthful, and informed content to the American electorate. Citing the reason for his failure as a “dive for the ratings,” the scene speaks waves to the news broadcasts we see today. No matter which mainstream outlet you watch, how many news articles you read, something is always missing; facts without context, a stream of talking points, or buzzword-driven character assassination have cemented themselves in modern journalism. Failures in predicting elections, the dangers of terror threats, the destruction of the social fabric, and of how government really affects our lives have become routine throughout major news outlets. Yet the punishment for the political punditry class was always the same, none. So quickly do they move on from cataclysmic failures like the 2016 presidential election, and Brexit, some self-criticism and analysis of their process is needed. Clearly a systematic failure took place, one that previously lead to some things cited by McAvoy in Iraq, the 2008 financial crash and so on. So where does this all lead us?

Make no mistake, it’s the culture wars and the regressive left and far right that have infiltrated the media, creep into universities, and have power in business and political analysis organizations like think tanks and nonprofits companies. Interestingly enough Bill O’Reilly wrote nearly ten years ago, in his book “Culture Warrior” that the Democratic Party was slowly shifting more towards a secular-progressive ethos. Accordingly, the 2010 rise of the Tea party triggered an equivalent shift in the Republican party (which could be argued transitioned or transformed into the Trump movement), leading to the two sets of ideals clashing. Depending on your lexicon of terms the phrases “regressive left” or “social justice warriors” used by both sides in politics are more common today. Obviously regressive has a negative connotation while justice seeks to legitimize and stand on moral ground for the cause, while “alt right” and “white supremacist” or “right wing/far right” occupy the other camp. Yet the increased polarization seen in protests, riots and demonstrations in American streets, rising violence against political opponents and the idea of equality of outcome vs opportunity requires honest, logical, objective conversation. While I won’t take the time to highlight every issue in this piece, I will lay out the theoretical frameworks and rules that will frame my attempt to fill this need.

  1. I will make every effort to avoid mistakes addressed above.
  2. Given that this is an opinion column, I will not pretend objectively, I will however, do my best to defend these opinions and expose readers to the views of others.
  3. I will make every attempt to provide only relevant, proven facts, statistics, studies, and news pieces relevant to the topic. Anyone with differing numbers is welcome to provide them to me.
  4. While not using it as a justification for my positions, I will inform the reader of my personal experience with the issues in the appropriate context.
  5. Calling out bullshit matters, and using the “their side did it too” argument is wrong.
  6. Lying, sexism, crime, racism, and everything of the sort is wrong, period. Though keep in mind these are politicians and public figures speaking on politics, they lie….often.

Why do I persist in what appears to be an endless battle? Many reasons; first being the poor quality of debate I see from all circles of life and demographics about these issues. It’s becoming harder and harder to have rational, respectful discussions with people, and even those who don’t follow the news can see a tipping point is being reached. Second, that tipping point and the buildup to it has blinded many of us to some basic realities about the world and replaced it with our own subjective interpretations. Finally, I love debate, speech, and writing and would enjoy a place to formally lay out my case, express my thoughts and interact with those who disagree and agree. Hopefully we will all leave feeling better about the future.

In closing, as I will every piece, a pearl of wisdom relating back to the theme or issue discussed, to quote Aristotle:

“It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.”

Are you looking for digital journalism training and experience? Are you a journalism major who wants to take your career to the next level? CMN’s Digital Journalism course gives you real-time experience, intense feedback on your writing, exposure to journalism influencers and mentors, and a great place to display your work. You can get academic credit too. Check out the Digital Journalism Course here.

William Hartnett (Will) is a CMN writer who covers sports, entertainment, and politics. A rising junior at American university, he's studying international relations with a focus on national security.

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