Denigrating the process

When most of the television stations, both state and privately owned, were advertising their election programs before Sunday’s polls by touting their guest politicians, analysts and pollsters, some stations that like to think of themselves as hip and youthful chose to report from island resorts and tell us where second-rate celebrities would be on election day. How many people chose to watch these «youthful» television stations for a more «light-hearted» approach to the European parliamentary elections and how many recognized that the polls are important, I do not know, nor is it really important. What is certain is that much of the European-wide abstention from the polls did not come down to media that cultivate an apathetic approach to the political process. If, however, we really wanted to gauge the contribution of certain media, whatever their own, individual reasons, to the cold disregard for the electoral process we saw in the EU elections, we need first look at the systematic and lengthy denigration of politics and of all politicians. «I won’t vote, because they’re all the same,» was one of the frequent answers given by abstainers in the runup to the elections. This is hardly a novel response when one considers that this is the dogma being pushed night and day by those media that are looking to manipulate public opinion through their shows, whatever their content. Why? One explanation is that this is the only way they can feel superior, mighty and virtuous, even if they have their finger in a political pie or two. Another explanation could be that the prime sources of populism today are not the party mechanisms, but media mechanisms. And one of the toughest forms of populism is the complete leveling of the differences between personalities and parties and the cultivation of a general mistrust that has vague or nonexistent political characteristics. The argument that «they’re all alike,» whether it be a belief or stance, is not a solution, but a problem – at least for those who care to see it.