The result is a political class more concerned about their next tweet or cable news segment than legislating. Granted, there is a long history of politicians using the bully pulpit in the hopes of getting results without legislation; it is not always a bad thing. Yet we have now reached the point where Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez complains that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is trying to distract her from her true calling as a social media gadfly by giving her important committee work.
This sad state of affairs may also be traced to various populist “reforms” weakening our political parties over the course of decades (in this case, so-called campaign finance reform). Absent strong parties, the internet has shifted greater financial power to an activist class currently more obsessed with performative outrage than winning. And outrage culture is itself partly the product of a confluence of technology with the decline of institutions beyond Congress and the major political parties. People feel less connected to organized religions, civic organizations, or local government.
The effect of the internet, like radio and television before it, has been to further nationalize politics. But the internet, unlike these prior technologies, is corrosive to the idea of a common culture outside national politics. The Founders created an extended republic with the idea of countering faction; the internet puts the idea of faction on steroids.