That's Entertainment: Politics as Theater in Campaign '08


Ignite Portland takes place as presidential primary voters go to the polls in 22 states in what is being billed as “Tsunami Tuesday.” But what could be the decisive day for both the Democratic and Republican 2008 White House hopefuls arrives even as the transformation of American politics into theater is almost complete.

Politics must now compete with an oversupply of entertainment and information sources, from television, radio, books, newspapers and magazines to web sites, blogs, online video, Podcasts and more. The result is a 21st century “infotainment complex” where politics, news, opinion and entertainment merge. Politics itself is now entertainment, part drama and part competition in a passion play where confrontation, conflict and good versus evil rule the day. The journalistic search for objective truth is replaced by the presentation of ideological clashes with two – and only two – sides.

This talk examines the disturbing implications for campaign ’08 and American democracy itself when a well-informed citizenry devolves into what Al Gore deemed the “well amused audience.”

Jon Perr

Affiliation Perrspectives

Jon is a corporate strategy and marketing consultant for technology companies. Also a long-time political organizer and activist, he blogs at Perrspectives, BlueOregon and other sites.