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Sudden outbreak of democracy baffles US pundits

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Dumb and dumber

Was this a conspiracy to keep Americans from seeing the truth? I don't think so, but it is a watershed moment that exposes the media and political elites. These are people who went to college together, and who share the same sense of importance and entitlement. In the memorable words of the BBC's Adam Curtis, neither class knows what it's doing any more, "and they know that they don't know".

Both also have a close relationship to marketing, which claims it has a unique and almost alchemical ability to help politicians "reach" the public. In actual fact, it does something far much more useful for the politicians, by making people a distant, safe, and manageable entity. Politicians hate democracy and the nasty surprises it brings, and marketing promises to disarm the threat. With "microtrends," people's true intentions can be managed into something that can be addressed with a soundbite, to be mollified with an earmark.

It's a truism that when someone claims an expertise on niche marketing - they really don't have a clue about the world. Finding refuge in atomicity, they've simply given up trying to describe the bigger picture. It's a cowardly choice.

The media's role is simply one of providing comfort and propaganda. Tremors in the micro niches are reported in great detail. But when a political earthquake takes place, the media can't even recognise it. It's literally beyond description - the words aren't in their vocabulary.

The result has left us disenfranchised. The same comforting propaganda that reduces people to a convenient aggregation of demographic labels, is quite useless at divining their intentions, when they are so forcefully expressed.

But clearly, now, the era where politicians, journalist and political marketing experts propped each other up is over, and the internet has helped enormously to destroy their power. The micro-marketing is now junk; the court journalism is superfluous, and deep alliances that the elites tell us are unthinkable and impossible( such as between libertarians and parts of the left) will surely emerge.

As I write, however, the Bailout that Americans don't want is returning, this time weighed down with pork barrel sweeteners for everyone from NASCAR track owners to environmentalists. A few minutes ago, it passed: so 21st Century America's brush with democracy may have been a brief experiment.

But wasn't it fun while it lasted? ®

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