Good stuff from Kos and Josh Marshall taking on the latest iteration (this time from Newsweek's Evan Thomas) of the perennial elite DC press chestnut that partisanship and polarization depress mass political engagement. Of course, empirical evidence and not a small degree of basic common sense have indicated for a while now that this thesis is essentially the opposite of correct.
Thomas's argument erroneously puts the media at the center of a story that has far more to do with structural political changes and the decades-spanning process of southern electoral realignment. His argument for the growing disaffection of the center largely hinges on a single reference to the 1960 peak in national voter turnout, which, as Kos notes, obscures the fact that the modern developments Thomas is specifically bemoaning happened decades later and have correlated with, if anything, a period of (modestly) higher-turnout elections since they emerged. (And as Nathan Newman used to point out, even the broader story of decline in voter turnout since the mid-20th-century is usually significantly overstated for a number of reasons.)
Meanwhile, in the issue just prior to the one containing Thomas's lament, Newsweek ran a brief profile of Sam Waterston, Law and Order mainstay, great actor, and all-around lovely guy -- but, unfortunately, also the celebrity spokesman for one of the lamer examples of establishment anti-politics currently around, Unity08.com. All told, the threat to the republic posed by nasty partisanship is about as real as the threat to seniors posed by medicine-hungry robots.
(If the YouTube video no longer works, check it out here.)
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