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The End of Politicking in Politics
Love it or hate it, democracy requires dealmaking.
Sree’s newsletter is produced with Zach Peterson (@zachprague), who lost his grandma Marlene this weekend. He reminds us all to be in better touch with all our dear ones. Stop reading this and go call someone! Digimentors Tech Tip from Robert S. Anthony (@newyorkbob). Our sponsorship kit.
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US POLITICS IS (NEARLY) ALL THEATRICS AND NO SUBSTANCE, and we’re all the worse for it. Right now, a bill to — at the minimum! — keep the government funded and running is being held hostage by a band of right-wing MAGA House members. They represent something like 2 or 3% of the legislative branch, and are holding up anything even remotely resembling a normal, functioning legislative process.
Mitt Romney announced that he will not seek re-election to his Utah Senate seat, and he has not held back on the reasoning behind his decision. Love him or hate him, Romney has had a pretty illustrious life, both in public political life and in the business world. He’s someone who understands what “The Art of the Deal” actually is in the real world, and he’s someone who wants to get results.
The US Congress, by Romney’s own words, is simply not the place to work if you want to get meaningful results.
[One thing Romney said on the way out that I completely condemn: his framing of Trump vs Biden. “Biden is unable to lead on important matters and Trump is unwilling to lead on important matters” — that’s a cop-out which puts him on Trump’s hateful side.]
I’ve often decried that mushy middle of politics, but there’s just no denying that our legislative process really depends on dealmakers in both parties working together to make big things happen. People on the more partisan ends of such deals raise hell about how they go too far or not far enough, but incrementalism is really the point of our system, and the only way to get truly big things done in our modern political environment absolutely requires incrementalism. There’s just no other way.
It’s such a common, throw-away line that we’ve all heard a million times: “I just hate the politics of it all.” Your siblings say it, your parents say it, your friends say it. But, I’m here to tell you that we need more politicking in our politics, not less. We need more space for people to make deals that ultimately mean at least part of a good thing happens.
Needless to say, this is not the trendline, especially on the right. With Romney’s departure, it’s hard to be optimistic about the already razor-thin possibility of bipartisan legislation. Bob Corker, the former Republican Senator from Tennessee who is very much in the mold of Mitt Romney, told Politico essentially the same thing. He had pledged to serve two terms anyway, but he was more than happy to leave the Senate. He wanted to get back to getting things done. Deal-making is not exactly a hallmark trait of the modern Republican party, and they can’t even get their own House caucus in line. Sadly, losing Senators like Romney and Corker to retirement ultimately probably hurts the American people more than it hurts the GOP.
The news cycle is about to become even less forgiving as Trump seems to be marching to the GOP nomination in 2024, and the party is falling in line behind him. His acolytes in the House are already wielding his political power (very effectively so, if you ask both them and Kevin McCarthy), and it’s both gross and a sign of the times.
In the House especially, partisan gerrymandering has rendered the vast majority of House seats uncompetitive. In the 2022 midterms, just 10% of House elections were considered competitive, and that’s become the norm. This lack of competition is absolutely awful for our democracy, and it’s manifesting itself in increasingly destructive ways.
Philip Bump wrote a short analysis of some recent Fox News polling that perfectly encompasses how this mess comes together to create an absolutely toxic elections environment. The poll was only asking about Joe Biden and Donald Trump, not other GOP hopefuls, and the results are really eye-popping.
Overall, most Americans view [Trump] as corrupt, beating Biden by an eight-point margin. His own party is nine points more likely to say he’s corrupt than Democrats are to say the same of Biden. Independents are 10 points more likely to say that the term applies to Trump than to Biden.
One can anticipate the partisan debate that these numbers might trigger: How on Earth could [candidate] be viewed as nearly as [attribute] as the other guy? There’s no evidence that [candidate] is [attribute] but plenty of evidence that the other guy is!
I’m still struggling to get past this “how could you possibly think Donald Trump and Joe Biden are on equal corruption?” footing, but I am trying. Something like 85% of the country has already decided who to vote for, and somehow half of us still come down on the Trump side.
The squeeze this puts on compromise-minded politicians trying to win and effectively serve swing districts is increasingly tight, and it will only get worse. If you think it’s bad now, I fear this is just a taste of what’s to come.
⚒️ NEWISH: Digimentors Tools Kit: People are always asking me for recommendations for gadgets, gizmos, websites, etc. So my Digimentors team has created a tools kit we will keep updating. Take a look!
DIGIMENTORS TECH TIP: XGIMI Horizon Ultra Projects Dual Personalities with Laser & LED Light
By Robert S. Anthony
Each week, veteran tech journalist Bob Anthony shares a tech tip you don’t want to miss. Follow him @newyorkbob.
Sometimes one cool technology just isn’t enough. Do you design a new home projector with laser illumination, or do you go with LEDs? XGIMI’s answer: Use ‘em both.
The new XGIMI Horizon Ultra attempts to separate itself from its long-throw-projector competition by combining the benefits of both laser and LED (light-emitting diode) lighting into a single device. The result, according to XGIMI representatives at a recent New York press event, is a unit that delivers bright 4K videos that feature accurate colors and solid contrast without losing subtle details.
By combining the brightness advantages of laser light with the edge-to-edge color stability of LEDs, XGIMI’s home-grown Dual Light technology can provide brightness of up to 2,300 ISO lumens while maintaining extremely high color accuracy without color fringing (the TikTok logo is an example) on screens as large as 200 inches, according to XGIMI.
XGIMI bills the $1,699 unit as “the world's first and only long throw home projector with Dolby Vision,” which means it can decode the metadata embedded in movies recorded in Dolby Vision and reproduce the colors, brightness changes and other elements of the movie as intended by the producer.
The XGIMI Horizon Ultra comes with Android TV built in, has dual Harman Kardon speakers and includes features that take its environment into account. For example, sensors in the unit adjust image brightness automatically as room conditions change and a color-adaption feature adjusts colors in the image to compensate for the color of the wall or screen.
Automatic keystone adjustment keeps the image from looking off-kilter and an eye-protection feature shuts off the light if it detects a moving object—like a person—in front of the combined laser-LED light.
Despite its sophisticated technologies, the projector is designed to fit into a home’s décor and hide when not in use. A small door slides open to reveal the projection lens only when the unit is in use.
At $1,699, the Horizon Ultra is hardly a budget projector, but competes well against laser projectors priced much higher, according to XGIMI. The unit is available now from theXGIMI website, Amazon and other vendors.
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