Just as the UK was divided over Brexit so the US election shows a deep divide — something we can thank the media for

 

Media outlets claimed: ‘thousands take to the street‘, following Trump’s unexpected victory. Half of the American electorate voted for him however, so arguably at least half knew what they were doing, right? 

The Media and the Vote

To say that the West is in a crisis is an understatement of the many tensions that are not expressed in our media. If America was taken by surprise at the outcome of the election the first question is why? An election is about deciding who will run the country for the next four years and people must be deprived of honest conversation for the result to be unexpected. The history of the right to vote has itself been controversial and complex and to misuse that privilege is a deep injustice. If the electorate cannot decide efficiently at a time when the world is so globally interconnected then, through miscommunication, no communication and manipulation, the vote doesn’t effectively represent the people.

The media further intensifies this problem through its obsession with bite-sized information. With Brexit it was simply immigration and sometimes the economy. For the US election it became immigration and rights. Through the media the vote becomes an issue represented in an image, a statement or an opinion. However, the vote is more personal and multifaceted so the media’s preference for condensed information can never convey the range of issues and concerns the people truly have. Likewise, the candidate can always say the right words but the electorate cannot always accurately access his competency through the handiwork of a skewed media.

The Role of the Media in Political Reporting

To say that either of these elections were only about the issues mentioned is extremely simplistic. A person’s daily experience cannot be conceptualized into neat chunks of information.  It is scary to consider all the decisions governments can take while giving no thought to the electorate, simply because they know no one will notice.

An outsider could easily be mistaken in thinking that other political parties, ideas and pathways do not exist. Britain and the US, two highly developed Western countries, are polarised on similar issues and dominated by a biased media that discounts one view in favour of another.

Mass media and especially social media have been extremely vociferous during these elections. But with such oversimplified representation of the complex issues, it’s no wonder that some people found the election result (much like the Brexit one) rather unexpected.

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