Warning: Disjointed Political Rant Ahead.
"But this will be the reality because this is the easy reality and our politics now lives off of created reality, not the data."--Andrew Sullivan
So a nudist with a pickup truck defeats a Brahmin who has trouble distinguishing between the Rebel Alliance and the Evil Empire, and everybody freaks out. Because that's what we do now, isn't it? We freak out. Over on Fox News, Glenn Beck is drooling on a chalkboard, and over on MSNBC, Olbermann is Murrowing us over the head, and on CNN, a Wolf is Blitzering, and out here on the frontiers of the Internets, everyone everywhere is freaking the F out. Because that's what we do now; this is the default position in politics, and maybe in our culture: Someone says/does something that may or may not have anything to do with an objective truth, and then it somehow becomes the conventional wisdom. An anomaly occurs, and we extrapolate it to mean that the whole world has changed.
So Sarah Palin writes on her blog that health care reform will result in the death of cocker spaniels, and people freak out and lead that "argument" into the mainstream; and our president declares that he is open to alternative solutions beyond a public option, and the Huffington Post runs a 700-point headline declaring Obama the newest incarnation of Milton Friedman, and suddenly health care is a failure without the public option; and some idiot smuggles explosive in his Fruit of the Looms, and we demand everyone fly in the nude, and in the end, we all run around with our heads cut off, sucking up unemployment insurance, lamenting the deflated value of our homes, and assuming that everyone everywhere is wrong about everything, and that the way to solve the problem is to vote for a handsome "outsider" who drives an S-10. This is the curse of electing a rational president in a post-rational reality: All these opinions, all this unfiltered information, and no one has the time to reason anymore.
So I don't know what this election means--nobody knows what it means, because part of freaking out about everything is getting so caught up in the moment that you lose all perspective--but the most frustrating part, at least for me, is not the result. The most frustrating part is that no one seems willing to live off the data anymore.
P.S. This Tom Junod piece is tangentially related, and makes a lot of sense.