The funny thing about politics is that everyone pretends it's a "thing" - a subject in school, a topic to be understood, a section in the newspaper. A static "thing", too - something that just is. Really, politics is THE "thing". It IS the news. (although it still remains just a subject in school, called Civics or History or Government) Nick and Jessica's breakup isn't news. Not in the sense that it is A) important B) impacts your life in any way or C) the result of something important. Of course, if you're Nick's mother, or Jessica's agent, it's all three. However, I'm willing to bet that neither Nick's mom or Jessica's agent are reading this right now. For you (gentle reader), this is just gossip. Front page AJC and CNN gossip, but gossip.
On the other hand, most of what happens on CSPAN, boring as it might be, is news. These are the things that will impact your life in a meaningful way. Your representative government making decisions in your name are just as relevant to you as Red Hat Society meetings or even family decisions to have your 15-year old dog, Muffy euthanized. I guess it's the nature of the beast that it bores us - instead of making decisions ourselves, we hire people to do our deciding for us. Can you imagine that kind of decadence in our home life? Hiring someone to to menu planning for our families? Hiring someone to purchase a car for us? Hiring someone to choose what clothes we'll wear to work today? Basically, we've lost all competence in our ability to make decisions of national importance anymore. We've become a herd of sheep waiting to see which dog of a politician will direct us to where we will graze next.
So that brings me to the physics I alluded to in the title. Republicans these days love to live in the two-sided world where on one hand, they denounce those who watch the polls. I believe the phrase they like to use (they probably heard it on Rush Limbaugh) is "he has no core beliefs, he sways with the wind." Actually, on the web searches I did, you can replace the "he" with a democrat of your choice. On the other hand, Republicans love to denounce the Dems as being "out of the mainstream" and love to show polls when they favor their positions. So what gives? Are they just hypocritical bastards? Well, yes. But more importantly, they understand a very fundamental concept of modern politics. This concept is the idea that the public's opinion is based on what politicians tell them what their opinion is. That is, the more they tell us that "mainstream Americans" support the war in Iraq and support restrictions on abortion and support the President, the more we believe them.
So what is politics? Is it listening to your constituents or is it shunning them? We fight about which of these two cats is in Schrödinger's box, while the real cat is in our kitchen drinking our milk and knocking over our trash cans. The Truth is, we are politics. And the people who think they're not involved are the people most involved. Is Bush ever going to win over committed environmentalists? No. But he can marginalize them by turning the apathetic and disaffected against them. Can the religious reich make Bible stories into science? No. But they can publish polls telling you how most Americans believe God created the world. Can neoconservatives make the Iraqi war less bloody? No. But they can tell us that the Liberal Media is filtering out the good news. Are these polls and papers reporting on our "core beliefs" or are they creating them? What kind of sheep do they take us for, anyway?