Vox has a good piece on the mistake that Obama recently made (“Randomgate”) and how the resulting follow on stories about that mistake illustrates why we can’t have interesting politicians. Their conclusion?
Long-term, the problem here isn’t just news consumers find themselves listening to bullshit gaffe stories. It’s that politicians learn the same lessons over and over again: unscripted moments are dangerous and generally to be avoided. Don’t give interviews and don’t stray from talking points.
The media will bemoan lack of access and robotic, scripted answers. But it will also punish deviations from the script. And it will do so in the most trivial ways. No minds were changed during Randomgate and nobody learned anything. A couple of spokespeople had a bad afternoon. Some websites (including this one) got some extra pageviews. And every politician learned to be that much more boring in the future.
I think this way of dealing with politicians doesn’t just make them uninteresting: it also make our politics dumber. Here’s hoping this changes, though if anything, I think it will get worse before it gets better.
If you are associated with people who are political activists, you will likely be presented with events from time to time and you will be asked “why aren’t you outraged by this?” It can put you on the defensive. It can make you feel uncaring, selfish, or apathetic. You have to agree that a massacre or child abuse or great poverty is outrageous, and you feel at that moment that a) something should be done and b) you are somehow deficient for not doing something about it.
This is a trap. First off: is there something you can immediately do to stop this? If you can, then do it. Chances are you cannot. So outrage aside, you need to make a plan either to take action in the longer term, or not take action at all. But why would you not take action at all? Simply because there are more terrible things in the world happening than you can possibly tackle. Even if you were to devote your life to them, there would be many many more things you cannot do than you can. You need to have a plan to do what you can.
Feelings like guilt or or pity or outrage may spark you do something. But if things stop there, such feelings are self-indulgent. Instead, pick something that you are motivated to improve and work on.Can you do more? Do more.
Just avoid the trap.
(Originally posted at Posterous on April 24 2011)
According this article in GigaOM, Obama Is campaigning within games:
‘Last week we noted unconfirmed sightings of an “Obama for President” billboard in the Xbox 360 racing game Burnout Paradise. Today we’re able to report that it is, in fact, an official advertisement placed by the senator’s campaign team.’