Getting from Here to There
The notions of the mainstream media and its demagogue and the transformation to something hardly recognizable as the United States of America spark an imaginative exercise. Admittedly, one begins to edge toward the line from analysis to creative writing with this stuff, but a few threads in current events point to an interesting tangle.
Shortly after his inauguration, Obama sets out to reward the mainstream media for its support. Oh, he won’t put it that way. Instead, he’ll express his gratitude that the “objective” press was able to overwhelm the “smears” of the propaganda machine on talk radio and the Internet. “What a shame,” he’ll say, “that those swamps of anger and divisiveness are draining the financial lifeblood from professional journalism.” Surely, it’d be in the nation’s interest — in the name of unity and fundamental change — to implement a modern day Fairness Doctrine, along with something new, something to ensure that the knowledge and experience of consummate professionals were able to dominate the Web, as well.
Having lost valuable ground with the undermining of two media that have enabled it to flourish over the past few decades, the political right would have seek other venues for communication and other spheres for influence. An obvious one, for social conservatives, is the territory of religious organizations, both the churches themselves and the groups and networks of groups that spring up around faith-based action. Since they don’t proclaim themselves as sources of information, blocking them off would require an indirect strategy. The administration would have to find other issues with which to barricade the door.
One opportunity would be to institute same-sex marriage throughout the nation. Any groups that have anything to do with marriage would face the loss of their tax exempt status and any licenses necessary for operation (as with the Catholic adoption agency in Massachusetts) if they wouldn’t fold. Any group with publicly available assets could be flushed with applications to allow events that are contrary to their religious beliefs, again facing the loss of government recognition and allowances.
One by one, the bastions of the right, the opposition, the subversives, could be felled beneath the benign smile of tolerance and fairness. Unity. Every discrete argument about this civil right or that government protection might come together until the line is reached at which the government would have license to jail and ruin dissenters.
Provided it doesn’t come true too quickly, it’s probably a story worth thinking through and composing.