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Avoiding stupid smart takes and other keys to having a good end to 2014
In all of the pieces about the biggest and best political stories of the year – extruded from the last remaining brain cells of writers for editors equally desperate for release into holiday bliss – you will read no end of foolishness. “Immigration!” will come the cry. “Police protests!” one will shout. Others will delight in being counterintuitive: “Campaign finance reform and the Venezuelan loan default…’ and so on.
Do yourselves – and the writers – a favor and ignore all such pieces; read none of these extrusions. They don’t really want to be judged by something they scraped together while checking their text messages for word that the open bar was underway at the Kale Farmers Association. (“Kale-a-rita time, y’all! ;P”) Judge them instead by the number of hours they spend tweeting inside jokes to each other, the true measure of political journalism in our time.
You, of course, do not need to read these stale crumbs whisked from the corners of empty minds because you are not, as you know, stupid. And as a proud non-stupid person, you are aware that the biggest political story of 2014 was, um, the politics. There having been no laws of real importance passed, we cast our eyes over to elections and lo and behold: There was apparently a landslide midterm election that occurred after more than a year of campaigning and $4 billion spent. One party took the largest House majority since the 1920s and also claimed control of the Senate for the first time in eight years.
Those who don’t recognize this may be blinded by their own opinions that the idea of Republicans stomping the goose feathers out of the Democrats in an election must be immediately discounted as meaningless or aberrant. After all, two thirds of voting age adults didn’t participate….
More powerful, though, in this era of “smart takes” and atomized news distribution is that there is little incentive for saying obvious things, even if they are accurate. Unfortunately, all of these smart takes make us more stupid collectively because we lose the ability to see larger trends. Plus, November is now approximately 10 million news cycles ago and the new Congress won’t start for like two weeks. Lame…
But elections matter, and so do the policies and governance they produce.
And that’s a big part of our love for politics; Election results and laws enacted may be shaped by spin and the gravel spray of the news cycles, but ultimately they transcend those things. One side wins. One side loses.
But, if you will excuse us, there’s another reason we pour ourselves into politics even when we loathe many politicians and much of their handiwork. Because we are hopeful beasts who are always looking for some light to lead us out of whatever present darkness enshrouds us. And sometimes, though rarely, the light does appear. So in that way, even the most carbuncle-encrusted troll in the deepest throes of a Twitter war with what may or may not be a tweet bot, is engaged in a hopeful act. (Hey, c’mon! It’s Christmas! Show some love.)
This marks the end of 2014 for Fox News First. We will return to our place of privilege in your inbox on Monday, Jan. 5. Thanks for your support and occasional forbearance. Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year from all of us here at the Washington Bureau of Fox News.
Chris Stirewalt is digital politics editor for Fox News. Want FOX News First in your inbox every day? Sign up here.
Chris Stirewalt joined Fox News Channel (FNC) in July of 2010 and serves as politics editor based in Washington, D.C. Additionally, he authors the daily Fox News Halftime Report political news note and co-hosts the hit podcast, Perino & Stirewalt: I'll Tell You What. He also is the host of Power Play, a feature video series on FoxNews.com. Stirewalt makes frequent appearances on network programs, including America’s Newsroom, Special Report with Bret Baier and Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace. He also provides expert political analysis for FNC’s coverage of state, congressional and presidential elections.