Monday, September 4, 2017

THE PRAIRIE EDITOR: Political Idiopaths

Many in the establishment punditocracy, both on the left and
right, seem intent on an idiopathic critique of the nation’s new
president and his administration, a quest they began before
his election on November 8 last, continued after his election
and before his inauguration, and now ad nauseum to the
present and seemingly beyond.

Unlike my criticism of media organizations’ bias in reporting
"news," I defend any pundit’s or opinion journalist’s right to
say what they please in interpreting that news. In fact, political
criticism is necessary. It’s one of the defining hallmarks of our
old and enduring republic. I not only defend the freedom of
political opinions that I agree with, but also of those I do not
agree with in whole or in part.

Like so much else in our representative democracy, political
criticism occurs in the marketplace of public opinion.
Politicians go to great lengths to measure that opinion, and
it has quite understandably a certain impact on what
politicians say and do. Public opinion, of course, is frequently
transitory. Like “conventional wisdom,” it often is the result
of emotional over- or under-reaction.

I opened this essay with the term “idiopathic critique.” The
adjective is borrowed from medicine which employs the term
to describe conditions which either appear suddenly or without
explanation. Mr. Trump and his political movement certainly
appeared visibly without much warning from the establishment
punditocracy. Some observers, however, did see it coming.,
although few saw Mr. Trump coming as the agent of that

Now there is a myriad of explanations of why and how
“Trumpism” appeared, but it is too soon to tell which of them
is most apt.

While political opinion of all kinds is both a right and to be
encouraged, it is also true that all political opinion will be
judged, especially for its accuracy and usefulness. All pundits
who offer commentary and predictions, be they on the left or
the right (or in the center), must meet tests of accuracy
in both the short term and the long term (a passing grade in
one might not pass in the other). The “wise”and “iconic”
pundits of the past can be quickly forgotten if their arguments
fail to explain or anticipate actual events.

The ablest diagnosticians of our national politics do not
mistake idiopathic conditions to be without understandable
cause. Like medical diagnosticians who look for the body’’s
signals and symptoms to determine cause and treatment, those
who try to explain the political and electoral must approach
the mystery of events, especially those which are unexpected,
with forensic care.

Otherwise, we only have media malpractice.

Copyright (c) 2017 by Barry Casselman. All rights reserved.

No comments:

Post a Comment