This year is on track to be the world’s hottest on record, exceeding the previous hottest year, 2015, which exceeded the previous hottest year, 2014. For the news media, this campaign offers a teachable moment. If you want to tell the most important story in human history, if you believe that rousing your audience to civic action is part of journalism’s job, you might want to cover the 2016 campaign against the backdrop of brutal climate change, and to frame this election as a choice whose consequences could be irreversibly damaging for the rest of human history.
Many people vote to send a message of rage and to shake things up, but I suspect just as many vote to maximize the fun of watching all that tumultuousness play out in the media. I include myself; I feel that undertow.
We’re not just voting for a candidate, we’re voting for an experience — the rush of crisis, the thrill of combat, the high of “breaking news,” the squirt of dopamine when something crazy could happen next. The electorate has become the audience, and the audience has become addicted to entertainment.