The Age of TMI Is Good for Voters

The XX Factor
What Women Really Think
Sept. 20 2010 11:15 AM

The Age of TMI Is Good for Voters

Jessica , I totally agree with you that Christine O'Donnell's facing something that's going to become the norm in politics. It's the let-it-all-hang-out era in a way that even the biggest hippies in the '60s couldn't have imagined. Still, even as someone who's been there in the worst way, I can say that I welcome the new social media era in politics. Once the learning curve is over, the benefits for the voters will be tremendous.

I predict two simultaneous trends: 1) People will find it harder to hide their true selves from the voting public, and 2) the standards for personal image of politicians will lighten up under all the pressure. In a decade, the hysteria over jokes Melissa McEwan and I made on blogs will seem completely ridiculous, but on the flip side, truly nutty folks like Christine O'Donnell won't be as able to put on a bland suit and a bland smile and hoodwink the public into thinking that they're not the kind of people who think Halloween is a Satanic conspiracy . In other words, I think that putting more information out there about everyone will adjust expectations until they're more realistic, both in terms of being more forgiving of minor slights (like doobies or dirty jokes) and more alarmed at the genuinely unsettling. The current unrealistic expectations are the product of a political system where candidates have way too much power to micromanage their image.  To quote the immortal words of MTV, it's time for people to "stop being polite, and start getting real."

Advertisement

Hey, and maybe at the end of the day all this honesty will mean that it's that much harder to build policies aimed at restricting ordinary vices, like smoking pot or screwing around. One of the major reasons that we have laws restricting drug use and reproductive rights is that the people who support these policies can count on the public not knowing about their own indiscretions. Once that's not an option anymore, hopefully it'll be that much harder for politicians to score points with moralistic grand-standing against widespread but closeted behavior.

Amanda Marcotte is a Brooklyn-based writer and DoubleX contributor. She also writes regularly for the Daily Beast, AlterNet, and USA Today. Follow her on Twitter.

TODAY IN SLATE

Culturebox

The End of Pregnancy

And the inevitable rise of the artificial womb.

Doctor Tests Positive for Ebola in New York City

How a Company You’ve Never Heard of Took Control of the Entire Porn Industry

The Hot New Strategy for Desperate Democrats

Blame China for everything.

The Questions That Michael Brown’s Autopsies Can’t Answer

Foreigners

Kiev Used to Be an Easygoing Place

Now it’s descending into madness.

Technology

Don’t Just Sit There

How to be more productive during your commute.

There Has Never Been a Comic Book Character Like John Constantine

Which Came First, the Word Chicken or the Word Egg?

  News & Politics
The Slate Quiz
Oct. 24 2014 12:10 AM Play the Slate News Quiz With Jeopardy! superchampion Ken Jennings.
  Business
Moneybox
Oct. 23 2014 5:53 PM Amazon Investors Suddenly Bearish on Losing Money
  Life
Outward
Oct. 23 2014 5:08 PM Why Is an Obscure 1968 Documentary in the Opening Credits of Transparent?
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 23 2014 11:33 AM Watch Little Princesses Curse for the Feminist Cause
  Slate Plus
Working
Oct. 23 2014 11:28 AM Slate’s Working Podcast: Episode 2 Transcript Read what David Plotz asked Dr. Meri Kolbrener about her workday.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Oct. 23 2014 6:55 PM A Goodfellas Actor Sued The Simpsons for Stealing His Likeness. Does He Have a Case?
  Technology
Technology
Oct. 23 2014 11:47 PM Don’t Just Sit There How to be more productive during your commute.
  Health & Science
Science
Oct. 23 2014 5:42 PM Seriously, Evolution: WTF? Why I love the most awkward, absurd, hacked-together species.
  Sports
Sports Nut
Oct. 20 2014 5:09 PM Keepaway, on Three. Ready—Break! On his record-breaking touchdown pass, Peyton Manning couldn’t even leave the celebration to chance.