You are to blame!!!

The Next 100 Years by Peter Zuris

Blog and post land is a great place to witness the exhibition of one of our cultural icons. The blame game. We seemed compelled as a people to cheer or jeer loudly as various teams play their games for our good, our pleasure, our demise or our salvation and we seem to really believe that doing so accomplishes something.

I'd like to make an analogy to sports. Just to arbitrary pick one, let's try NCAA football.

First question. What's the purpose of fans. Clearly being a team fan is not like being on the team. Our skills at fan behavior at the very most might determine some incremental motivation, but, all things considered, we have little to do with the outcome of the game. So, what is it that we contribute?

I'd like to suggest that our contribution that matters is that we finance the whole show. Even at the NCAA level football is expensive entertainment. Just like we pay outlandish fees for movies or TV or rock concerts, we pay also the cost and profit of a football production. We are valued customers and the more loyal we are to a particular team, the more we are typically willing to shell out for their support.

Nothing profound so far, you say.

Segue to politics. Just as in entertainment, it is critical for political parties to promote fan-hood. They are also expensive teams to field, and someone, before we hand the end results over to the tax payers to fund, has to fund the development of the team. If you are the CFO for one of the teams, fan loyalty is critical. You have to know what income you can depend on so you know quite certainly how to budget its investment.

So political "teams" are very skilled at courting their fans. They have professional and amateur cheer leaders to lead the crowd to scream for the team, and cry at the bad guy. The more raucous, the better. The more emotional, the more loyal, and therefore reliable are the fans.

It's been interesting over the last decades to see how both of the major political parties have "dressed" their cheerleaders. Some say that a major contributor to the Democrats success in the last major election was the Obama campaign's use of the Internet. Some say that the major cheerleader for the Republican Party has been Rupert Murdoch's publishing empire including Roger Ailes and his Fox News.

Is any of this good or bad?

Probably, to some degree.

It's good in that it helps to mitigate the biggest enemy of democracy, apathy.

It's bad because it tends to shift important debate to populous haranguing.

No matter. It is what it is, and it's here to stay.

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