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“The organizing principle of today’s politics is stay interesting”

Max Fisher, author of: The Chaos Machine: The Inside Story of How Social Media Rewired Our Minds and Our World, in conversation with Jon Favreau, on Offline. (episode 91).

Max Fisher: It is not a coincidence that people like that like the insurgents like Donald Trump like big insurgents were like all people are super online and like you even say something kind of similar the Democratic Party like obviously at the same tent to Online and I don’t think that’s because like being radicalized the Twitter algorithm made Matt Gates who he is so like made him want to like tear down the party from within, rather, I think that The fact that the insurgence republican parties tend to be very, I think, reflects this much deeper, like really transformative change and how our democracy works at this has been going on over like the last 10 years.

Democracy for the first 200 years of its history the way that it functioned was that that politics were set and enforced by these institutional gatekeepers, chiefly political parties like the political parties, parties would decide who got to run for office who got nominated they control fundraising they control messaging it, so they’d like determine what kind of politician you can be who can hold office and then to a lesser extent the mainstream media also does this by determining like who gets written about as a legitimate candidate, or who gets to reach people at all, because they control politicians ability to reach people, and also like organize groups like organized, labor, business that control the funding or donations for candidates, so that was how it always worked.

Ten or fifteen years ago that started to completely collapse — where those institutional gatekeepers no longer have control.

It’s for two reasons, One is the United States, which is pretty much alone in this — is started allowing primary voters instead of the parties to select who runs for office we’re almost completely alone in the democratic world, pretty much just us and the UK have open primaries. The other big one is The Internet.

Because the Internet means if you are an insurgent, that you are someone who is running against the party instead of running with Support you don’t need the party to reach voters you don’t need the party to fundraise. You can just fund your own through the Internet and you don’t need mainstream approval to reach those primary voters

Jon Favreau: and what you need in that in this world is to get attention and because everything is about attention that’s what social media values, and that’s what the Internet values. The way to get attention is whether it’s positive or negative doesn’t matter, you’ve gotta be louder, you’ve gotta be more extreme. That incentivizes insurgencies — it incentivizes, all kinds of clownish behavior that we seen from the Republican party, incentivizes more extreme politics. The easier route to attention is just saying a bunch of shit.

Here’s a GQ profile of Matt Gates from 2018 and in that profile he said the organizing principle of today’s politics is stay interesting which genius is the organizing politics is the organizing principle of social media and I thought there was a funny piece of color in this profile they said “just inside the door to gates congressional office. This is at least 2018 a flatscreen monitor mounted on the wall displayed the Congressman mentions on Twitter streaming real-time”

I think he is right about that. The people that he has for our Republican primary voters in his district. That’s what he’s instead of having to work for the party and what’s good for them he has to work for what those primary voters wanna see what’s gonna get their attention and we know the primary voters in both parties tend to be way more online so it’s with this thing where you have people who are online talking to other and working for some small like voters in their districts who are also super online and you see how that is like a really transformational change in incentives like it’s not in Matt Gates interest For the Republican party much less Congress or the United States government to be successful. What’s in his interest and this is true to so many insert. Now it’s just like hold on to the eyeballs of super Online primary voters yeah, that is why Donald Trump is the leading, Republican nominee and you know what his latest thing about windmills driving the whales crazy it got my attention. Don’t think I’m gonna vote for him now I think I’m off at this point you know Trump Trump going to the hill next week to maybe float himself maybe he will maybe he won’t sit in the trial right to be there but he’s there he’s talking to the cameras he’s Negative but what are people here Trump Trump Trump?

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