Saturday, September 8, 2012

Obama Would Win By A Landslide In Europe: Why Is It A Contest In The US?

This survey by Pew (via mainlymacro) shows how European's would vote in the presidential election. It raises many questions about what might contribute to such a wide divergence in opinion between Europe and the US.  Corporate ownership of the media, and the lack of a viable public television network in the US, may be one of the major differences.  Europe has experience with newspapers and yellow journalism, but TV coverage of the news by the BBC, for example, is more critical and rational than what one finds in the US.  Fox News may be an outlier in the US, since it is a form of yellow journalism transformed to TV, but the major TV networks are not critical of most of the lying and irrationality that comes from the far right.  They also run political ads that would run into legal challenges if they were commercials for a product or a service.

I agree that the media are a big part of the differences that exist.  The media, however, receive a constant flow of information from "think tanks" that are funded by far right interest groups.  The think tanks are also a source of the talking heads that appear on the news shows.  They also provide a lot of the material that finds its way into the print media. Unfortunately, the far right has had an influence on academics as well.  For example, the Mercatur Center was founded by the Koch brothers and corporations like Enron. Its mission is to provide academic legitimacy to far right ideas such as deregulation, global warming denial, and regressive tax policies.  It also does what it can to raise questions about progressive issues such as rising income inequality.  The far right has also been effective in linking christian fundamentalism to conservative politics.  The growing popularity of far right ideas in the US is not an accident.

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