A long time ago, I had a friend who had never cast a vote. In any election, ever. She just didn’t vote. When I asked her why (which I did more than once), she would always answer my question the same way: “What’s the point? They’re all the same.” I tried to convince her that there were differences even in the most unexciting elections. I tried to get her to see that not voting was, in fact, just another way of voting, but a way that was much less likely to produce changes she would like to see. I could not persuade her. “They’re all politicians, they’re all corrupt, they’re all the same,” she would repeat. “Nothing is going to change, no matter which one wins the election.”
A variant of this has taken hold on the political internet. This variant is not about voting; it’s about political behavior, but it functions in the same way and it has the same purpose — to justify apathy and dodge accountability.
Politico executive editor Jim VandeiHei said on the radio yesterday that the lesson of the Shirley Sherrod mess is that the “media-activist industrial complex” such as “Breitbart on the right or Huffington Post on the left” has “a huge incentive … to engage in real tough combat, and to overreact.”
Asked about this, VandeHei told Salon in an e-mail
As you can see from my remark, my point was clear: partisan media outlets are growing, some at very rapid rates. I am not equating the two other than to say both are ideological and both are growing at impressive clips. Huffington Post clearly leans left, Breitbart clearly leans right. I am not saying this is good or bad – just a fact.
We live in a flat landscape where the view is identical no matter where you look. And you can’t say where you’ve been, where you are, or where you should be, because all points on the map look exactly the same.