I’m really worried that an entire day might pass without your knowing what I’m thinking about a particular issue. Did you see me on TV? Did you hear me on the radio? Did you read my blogpost? My newspaper column?
How can you hope to get through each day unless I tell you what to think? It’s not that my analysis is particularly sophisticated; and please take it as given that I haven’t done any research, or that if I have done some I have ignored the facts that don’t suit my argument.
Did I mention that I’m being paid to give these opinions? I’m not saying someone rang me up and said “I’ll give you a thousand bucks if you express a negative opinion on so-and so.” No, it’s more subtle than that. My livelihood depends upon my clients knowing that I’ll put in a good word for them when I’m pretending to be an impartial observer of politics. When I look after them they look after me.
But even if I wasn’t being paid I’d probably still be doing it. And why not? I may have an inflexible worldview that disables my ability to think critically on a wide range of issues, but why should that prevent me from expressing myself publicly? Why should my inability to consider any argument without feeding it through a narrow ideological filter stop me from telling you what you need to be thinking?
My political affiliations are well known to those who follow politics closely. But most of the people who casually tune in to my TV or radio shows, or who glance at my columns, will be unaware of my close ties with a certain political party. Those ties make it very difficult for me to criticise the party openly, though sometimes I will mildly chide them over some matter of little consequence, so as to convince my audience that I really am a very reasonable and well-balanced fellow.
Sometimes I say things that I shouldn’t. Some people call this “lying.” But I don’t look at it like that. Some people say that politics is a contest of ideas, but that’s garbage. It’s about winners and losers. That’s all. If I say something that’s not true and people believe it, then that’s a win to my team, and nothing else matters. Moralise all you like about how dishonest I am, because nobody will believe you. “Well he/she would say that,” I’ll respond when challenged, before pointing out that my opponent is hopelessly biased because they once had some minor involvement in another political party ten years ago. I’ll also reassert my independence and balance by reminding the audience how I once criticised my own team over that minor thing a couple of months ago. So why would I lie? You can trust me, unlike the people I disagree with. They’re extremists. Look what they’re doing/want to do to this country!
Some of you know how the game works, but most of the people who read or hear what I say don’t. They’re just dumb spectators, who just happen to have a vote. That’s why my opinion matters. It’s not inherently worthier than yours, and it’s probably not even my own opinion. But I will be heard!