I always find it interesting when other’s people analyses are congruent with mine. I think that when a large enough number of people think and worry about a particular problem it eventually becomes “an issue” for politicians. In our democratic system, we need those politicians to produce change in society. I never expect any change to emanate from politicians. In my little model of how ideas propagate through society, politicians are at the bottom of the totem pole. The model goes more or less like this: paranoids > extremists > activists > public > politicians.
Some of these words, like extremist and activist would seem to refer to leftists ideas; however, I think they apply to any idea (even scientific ones). To give an example, the chart for allowing the US government to torture would look like this:
Dick Cheney > Ann Coulter > Bill O’Reilly > Southern Republicans > Congress
As you can see, you need all of them to produce the change, not any single one could do it by him or herself, and most of the time you can’t jump steps.
In politics, it usually starts with what is perceived as a conspiracy theory, the extremists take this idea and demand immediate solution to the problem, the activists find a convincing way, the public gets convinced and exerts pressure on politicians who vote a new law.
To tell you the truth, I never know where I belong in this model (some days I feel part of the impossible club of paranoids, some days I think I am an extremist, and some other days I hope I am being an activist). Wherever you put me, I am happy enough if I can help ideas circulate.
Franklin @ October 13, 2007