BESIEGED IN AMERICA….WILL BLOGS MAKE IT WORSE?….This is not an original observation, but a couple of things have gotten me thinking about the polarization of politics in America lately. I blame newsletters.

A common hallmark of special interest groups in America these days is a feeling of being besieged. Fundamentalist Christians think they are daily under attack by atheist liberals, gun rights activists are afraid of the imminent confiscation of their weapons, civil rights groups are convinced John Aschcroft wants to model the country after Mussolini’s Italy, and on and on. Why?

Guns are a good example. It’s a subject I’m not that interested in, so I only know what’s going on by reading the daily paper and watching the evening news. And based on that, I’d say there’s been next to no activity on this front for the past decade. Snooze city.

Needless to say, the average NRA member doesn’t see it that way, and newsletters are the reason. In a country of 290 million people, there’s plenty of anti-gun action every single month that doesn’t make the front page of the paper. After all, there are 50 states, dozens of counties in each state, hundred of cities, and thousands of schools. If even a hundredth of one percent of them pass (or think of passing) some kind of gun control legislation ? some of it pretty silly since, after all, there are plenty of silly people around ? the absolute numbers get large very quickly. So even though by most measures there’s not much going on, it’s still pretty easy to collect 10 or 20 instances of anti-gun activism every month and stuff them into the newsletter that you send to 30 million people.

It’s the very size of the United States that causes this. No matter what your interest, in a country as large as ours you can find lots of instances of someone opposing it. And if every month you get newsletters from the NRA or Focus on the Family or the ACLU that are chock full of new outrages ? well, before long you feel like everything you believe in is under siege. Most of the time it’s not true, of course, and the fact that the local school district in Sioux Falls did something foolish is hardly a sign of the apocolypse. Still, human nature being what it is, if you hear the same thing over and over it’s hard not to be convinced.

Blogs are just faster, easier newsletters, of course, and have the potential to make this problem even worse than it is now. So far the NRA doesn’t have a blog (does it?), but how long can it be before it does? And all the other special interest groups too? And then, instead of hearing about outrages against decency monthly, you’ll be able to hear about them daily.

Oh brave new world!

Our ideas can save democracy... But we need your help! Donate Now!