futuramakrist.JPG
Michael Levine
Krist Novoselic's writes every Tuesday & Friday . Follow him on Twitter @KristNovoselic.
The political polarization of America seems to be the topic

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Surfing the Off-Year Election Wave

futuramakrist.JPG
Michael Levine
Krist Novoselic's writes every Tuesday & Friday . Follow him on Twitter @KristNovoselic.
The political polarization of America seems to be the topic of the day. Right wing, left wing,--it's more like broken wing. We're in an era of charged partisanship, and that might be fine for those who benefit from it. Personally, I'm really not interested in hot-talk radio, wrecking-ball TV commentary, or surfing the edges of the divided blogosphere. I'm trying to make my own way in what seems like a wayward time for mainstream political operators.

I recall a similar ebbing tide exactly 20 years ago. It was also the turn of a new decade. As far as mainstream music and culture went, the '80s were rather staid. Many were glad to see the decade go. It must have been a yearning for excitement that had some speculating the '90s would be like the tumultuous 1960s, but upside down. As far as music went, 1991 did bring the grunge/alt rock revolution. There was an upheaval, and I personally got caught up in the center of it. My point is that things can and will change--sometimes very fast and in unexpected ways.

I can't put my finger on it, but I have this sense that we're at the cusp of change in our politics. I mean, where can go from here but up? And it's not about this November's election--I'm not excited about that at all. It's that people are longing for something fundamentally different.

It may be incremental, but current voter unrest is already changing the political infrastructure. Look at trendsetting California, where voters threw out the old system of partisan primaries for a top-two format that obliterates the party ballots we were previously boxed into. On another front, public awareness of gerrymandering, the shadowy process whereby political insiders pigeonholing voters into districts, is growing exponentially. But the biggest change happening is the information revolution and its impact on our society.

I had never even heard of the Internet back in boring old 1990. I hardly envisioned an exciting future where recorded music could be distributed so easily and cheaply. Technology is transforming media; and although it's moving slower, our democratic processes are going through a similar change. Perhaps the days of the traditional party are numbered? So long to stodgy old party meetings, member motions, and resolutions. The citizen of the 21st century is more attuned to the flash mob, gathered by email, instant messaging, and Twitter for purposes both high (Iranians protesting for freedom) and low (spontaneous "Thriller" dances). These self-generated assemblies can be both pointless and profound.

Even if I'm not so excited about the upcoming election, I'm not longing for a pillow fight, either. If Washington state's candidates and issues aren't so compelling in an off-year election, the technology is. It allows people to come together very quickly, in protest or support. People want to feel like they're part of something. That new paradigm is changing the waters. The swells are rising with a new wave of democracy. Surfers, get ready!

 
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