Scott Adams, ladies and gentlemen:
You can probably add to the list. But I think you see the point. During the Reagan era, I believe the acting was mostly limited to how one presented one's self to the public. Now the acting is integrated with most major policies. For example, it is generally understood that any politician who says he knows how to solve the budget problem is literally acting. In the past, that sort of claim might have been interpreted as lying. But a lie is something that the perpetrator expects the recipient to believe. We're way past that point. What we have now is pure theater. Our politicians aren't lying in the technical sense of the word because their fiction is as transparent as any movie or stage play. The audience is in on it.
In a democracy, it is not Nero but rather the voters who fiddle while Rome burns. The role of politicians in a democracy is to serve the interests of the voters, and the voters appear to be interested in a state that more closely resembles the WWE than a boardroom.
One need only look at how profitable political entertainment has become. Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Glenn Beck, and other radio talk show hosts have combined to build a market niche worth hundreds of millions of dollars. CNN, MSNBC, and FoxNews are also worth hundreds of millions of dollars for providing what essentially amounts to a fix for political junkies. Add political/current events books and magazines to the list, and political theater is a very profitable market segment.
And yet, with all these sources contributing to the debate, Americans are no more serious or even knowledgeable about the problems facing the nation, at least if one judges by their proposed solutions. Many proposals are based on an ignorance of basic math, and more are based on ignoring social and economic realities. Some proposals even ignore human nature.
Thus, it is easy to see that political theater is not in the least concerned with fixing the political problems facing the country. Rather, political theater has the same purpose as any movie or TV show: satisfying the audience’s demands for comedy and drama. And like most movies and shows, it is filled with vapid drivel.