For weeks in comments on Paul Krugman’s NYT blog I have been describing the internet experience as a bubble. The approach of Obama’s administration mirrors many of its features.
What is supposed to link ideas and actions through instant sharing actually does the opposite; it walls the user off and in. The flow of the web is really quantum-like. Its interactions are discrete packets that emerge from the shadows, stand zen-like for a moment before traveling through the next API to flash the instant dissolving reality of the new meme.
Like chopping a vegetable, the division of the internet has created greater volume. The web has multiplied its parts by dividing the whole into ever smaller bubbles which the metrics count separately to increase market share while diminishing power and the institutions of social action. There are only nine or ten media personalities that dominate the entire country’s conversations, with others mimicking their styles or discussing their ego-driven agenda. Huffington Post and other sites are driven by these models. And despite thousands upon thousands who weigh in, the primary season has shown many able candidates on both sides are on the way out.
Unfortunately, the Administration, in my view, has fallen into this social media trap. The daily e-mail notices create no jobs. They offer feel good facts, but not the nuances of policy. The e-mails announce the schedule stop, but never tell how to stop the attacks built on deception and misrepresentation. They never dirty their hands to pierce the bubble with real details that trackback the fallacies or funds being used to fight progress. Why didn’t the White House trumpet that Republicans released a study that shows the Democratic plan for taxes will actually boost incomes for poor and middle class families at a higher rate than the GOP plan?
The Chicago model of precinct politics translated to a 50 state strategy for winning elections that doesn’t work in governing in city hall or the US Capitol. I remember that Chicago pols shut down the city’s governance when Harold Washington was elected mayor – the same way the GOP shut Congress down when Barack became President. Unfortunately, Obama and his team did not have anyone except Rahm who took the bull by the horns. Embarrassed by leaks of promises, this White House has been amazingly free of leaks that point to threats or power plays. All carrot, no stick.
We sit on the outside, caught in our bubble, frustrated by the inaction. We go on leaving a daily string of comments. Half truths and slants are posted beside stories with a passion for reason and evidence. The unwitting abyss of the web mirrors an Administration whose goals are equally void of plans.