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Why Silicon Valley Is so Bad at Politics

When it comes to mocking WTF, there is a lot of low-hanging fruit. The ideas and policies with the most upvotes will be placed on billboards, a decidedly low-tech medium, outside Washington, D.C.’s airports, so politicians can see them. Only one potential WTF political candidate has been mentioned: Third Eye Blind frontman Stephan Jenkins, who Deadspin described two years ago as “an incorrigible asshole.” Even Pincus’s valid concern about the impenetrability of the Democratic Party came wrapped in a clueless attempt to reach out to the Democratic National Committee via its website. “Twice in the last year, I typed in five paragraphs of feedback, and it says, ‘We’ll get back to you,’” he told Recode. “And no one ever gets back to you.”

Pincus and Hoffman wrongly assume that adopting a “centrist” platform automatically makes this platform widely popular.

Pincus’s complaints about lack of access are especially rich when you consider that he is one of relatively few people in this country who has actual influence over its two political parties. “It’s become this competitive insider’s world,” Pincus told Recode. “Whether it’s me or my family and friends … we just feel—we’ve always felt—left out. It just feels like the bar is so high for any of us to have a voice and choice.” Pinkus was a major donor to President Barack Obama who spent $2.5 million in the last election cycle.

Still, this also means Pincus knows firsthand what big donations can and can’t get you. If even billionaires feel shut out by a political system that was developed to cater to them, things may be even bleaker than they seem. But WTF does little to actually solve the problem. Instead, it mashes up Twitter and Reddit, spreads it to as many people as it can, and expects the rest to take care of itself.

Pincus and Hoffman are betting on an idea that has undergirded similar projects like Third Way and the Innovation Party, one that is reminiscent of the way Hollywood traditionally has approached politics. They believe that there is a deeply rooted American political consciousness that both parties ignore and that partisanship obscures. They believe that the solutions to our problems are not only obvious, but that a clear majority of Americans approve of them.

There may be some broad, banal truth to this. People want good schools and clean air and water, and they don’t want to die because health care is unaffordable. But there are cavernous disagreements about how to accomplish these things, and figuring out how to accomplish these things (or to ignore them) is what politics is actually about. Pincus and Hoffman have rightfully identified a vanishing center in American politics, but they wrongly assume that adopting a “centrist” platform automatically makes this platform widely popular.


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