I don’t really want to write this entry now but I want to get it off my back.
First, here’s an interesting article to read. My brother and I have been harping on the vote-for-ideology phenomenon for a while — as a biased, condescending liberal, I feel that many people who vote Republican do so on the basis of three main issues: gay rights, abortion, and religion. Bush can do whatever crazy things he wants, but as long as he stands firm on these three issues, millions of voters will support him.
Not to say that this is a dumb strategy — if those three things (hating on gays, halting abortions, supporting religion) really mean more to you than anything else, by all means support the candidate that gets them done. The upshot is, as I said, that Bush can get away with a lot of insane stuff because many people simply Don’t Care. He’s even luckier, because he doesn’t even really have to support the big three issues; instead he just has to say he does. Everyone acknowledges that an amendment banning gay marriage will never pass, so Bush just has to say he supports it, and never has to worry about actually having to. Similar story with abortion and religion.
Democrats have a harder time converting voters, since they have to straddle the line on many issues, which is difficult to do and requires a more obvious kind of sleaze.
Anyway, this article confirms some of my suspicions. Some Bush supporters:
That same intensity was palpable the following day, in Beckley, W.Va., where thousands of people like Jim Farnsworth, a 32-year-old telephone technician holding his 1-month-old son, turned out for a rally with Mr. Bush. “Voted for him last time, will vote for him again, would even vote for him a third term if he would run,” Mr. Farnsworth said. “I like the convictions that he stands on. Abortion, family.”
His wife, Tina, chimed in, “His belief in God.”
I love George Bush,” Mr. McQuillen said. “He’s got the same convictions and principles that I have on a lot of things. Course, I don’t agree with everything he stands for, but most of the important things I do.”
Mr. McQuillen, wearing a sticker that declared he was a “Friend of Coal,” added of Mr. Bush, “He’s against big government, he’s against abortion, he’s against gay marriage.”
So, the music thing. We all know the deal about how somewhere between being a kid and being a parent we lose our affinity for popular music (as defined by whatever’s playing on “cool” radio stations at the time). I’ve seen a variety stock explanations for this phenomenon, the most common of which is that we lose our sense of rebelliousness, and stop becoming open to new sounds.
I have an alternate explanation that sounds obvious (and, I guess, probably is), but relies on a couple of only semi-obvious claims.
Claim 1. Most music on the radio over the last 50 years is essentially the same.
Well, duh, you say. Agreed, I say. This one is pretty obvious. Songs still go verse-chorus-verse-chorus, rock relies on the major third all the time and the blues scale for solos, rap is just flow over different beats. This is not to say that there aren’t good songs and bad songs, given this formula — there certainly are. (Consider the amazing results given the classical symphony form.) There are many different kinds of music, but each kind has stayed pretty faithfully on course for years or decades now.
Claim 2. All things equal, you’ll like your first exposure to a new sound more than subsequent exposures.
This manifests itself in a small way all the time: assuming all the albums are of equal quality, you are going to like the first album you hear by a band more than the ones you get afterwards. After all, it’s the one that exposed you to the novelties of the band’s sound, and the one that made you a fan. Later albums also suffer from having to meet your raised expectations. I’ve found this to be true for myself numerous times. You may want to look at your CD collection and think about which albums by each band you like best, and try to remember the order in which you got them.
In a larger sense, Claim 2 is why people have an amazing soft spot for the music they listened to during junior high and the beginning of high school. That’s when you probably first started listening to music seriously, and so it was your first major exposure to lots of different genres. Again, all things equal, you’re just going to like that stuff more than the things you hear now that are in the same vein.
So what do we have here? As you grow older, you are exposed to more kinds of music. Each time you hear a new kind, you acquire a taste for it, usually in the form of CDs by bands that are popular at the time you hear it. Eventually (and this takes many years), you’ve “gotten” pretty much all the major kinds of music out there. This probably happens in your mid-to-late twenties. The stuff on the radio is, by Claim 1, similar enough, genre-by-genre, that, by Claim 2, you prefer your first taste of those genres rather than what’s new. So you “fall out of touch” with “the new generation”, or whatever they say. It’s not because you can’t get used to new music; it’s because you’ve heard it all before.
This process just happens to coincide with other forms of maturation, which is probably why its effects are usually explained by these other mechanisms.
Obviously, I have no evidence for this theory at all (but then again, does anyone about any of these theories? no.) except my own experience. Already when I listen to a new song on the radio I can predict with some success the right chord changes, loud-soft dynamic shifts, and even entire lines of lyrics. Why listen to Band 2004 when I can listen to my own CDs, which are in many cases not much better, but at least have some sentimental value and pseudo-novelty attached to them?