There is so much disinformation flying around today that it is becoming a threat to our form of democracy. Why that is and who is responsible for reigning it in? That is what this post is all about.Read more
Is democracy going to be that short 250 year period in earth’s history when we thought people could rule themselves? Given what has been happening the last decade or so, it seems we might not not up to the task. In the beginning of our American democracy Thomas Jefferson said:
Are we up to that task today? It seems not. We in the US allowed a completely incompetent con-man to snake his way into the Oval Office. Anyone who cared to do even a minimal amount of study would have found that he was totally unprepared for the job. He is there primarily because of a non-informed electorate.
For the most part the world has been ruled by the elite few, for almost all of its history. If you don’t believe me just look at all the kingdoms and dictatorships that have come and gone throughout our history. Even the eras of history are named after the prominent rulers of that age.
Utopian societies have come and gone throughout American history. Everyone thinks they can form the perfect government by going off into the wilderness and fashioning their own society. I have been studying these types of communities for quite a while now and one thing most have in common is that they don’t last more than a decade or so before they are abandoned. Why that was so is primarily because factions developed in the community and they started fighting with each other. Everyone seems to think that their view of the world is the only one can can result in utopia.
It seems that one democracy after another is in trouble now. The US has an inept president. Canada is struggling because its prime minister seemingly did a favor for a private company. Britain is on the verge of a crisis, trying to divest itself from the rest of Europe. France is crumbling due to the citizenry failing to embrace long term planning.
The world’s democracies are in trouble. Will the coming decades mark their end?
This being a primary election day here in Indiana, democracies are on my mind. Two of the most beautiful and delicate things in the world are orchids and democracies. They both need constant nurturing to thrive. An orchid needs the right light and temperature. It needs constant watering or it will die on the vine. The same thing is true for democracies.
Too many in this country seem to think that our democracy is as rugged as Rambo. We can mistreat it and ignore it and it will always come fighting back. If you want to see the fallacy of that belief just look around the world at various country’s attempts to maintain a democracy. The most obvious example right now is Russia. When the iron curtain finally fell, Russia claimed that it would be a democracy. But that dream has pretty much been squashed. One inept leader after another tried to make it so but since a former KGB agent took the helm, the idea of a Russian democracy pretty much has vanished.
Thomas Jefferson stated that an informed electorate is absolutely essential for a democracy to exist. Sadly, an informed electorate seems to have at least temporarily vanished from the American landscape. Too many latched on to one con-man or another with promises they can’t and don’t intend to keep. Too many of us are just too lazy to do the work to weed out the cons from the Patriots. We are currently living with the consequences of that most recent failure.
Being that so many still don’t seem to understand the threat is more evidence that we are not as stable as many believe. All of us need to get involved in caring for our delicate democracy.
Anyone who has studied church history knows that it is not a democracy but instead has for most of its history a very vertical-oriented top-heavy organization. When the leadership of the church said something everyone was expected to quickly get in line with no questions asked.
Dissension, or some might say freedom of speech, is simply not allowed. In the past, anyone who even hinted at a disagreement was quickly handled. In the first few centuries of the church, many were proclaimed to be a heretic, which basically meant they didn’t agree with the leadership in some way or another. It usually followed that all of their writings, if they existed, were burned so their words would not pollute the church. And some were burned along with their books.
Thank heavens at least in the last few centuries heretics are not so severely handled but that does not mean that they are now ignored. Many think only of the Catholic church when they think of the power structures. No Catholic, especially the cardinals and bishops would go against anything that the Pope proclaims. But this situation also occurs amongst the Protestant denominations as well. Plainly speaking the leadership is to be obeyed.
If you even hint that you don’t agree with all the various creeds and statements can cause you to be disciplined or even thrown out. I know personally of a Lutheran minister who was brought back from an overseas mission and stripped of his sermon rights because he dared to join in prayer with other Christian groups, and years later I like him was shown the door due because I didn’t tow the line on how old the earth is among other things.
Many just can’t accept any questioning of their proclaimed doctrine. They claim that it would stain their institutional purity. About the only denomination that I am aware of that doesn’t do this are the Quakers. But since they are adamantly opposed to creeds, in general, that seems natural to them.
Sadly, there is simply no such thing as freedom of speech inside most church doors…
It’s become quite clear that really bad people get more attention than decent people. Liars get more attention than truth-tellers. Conspiracy theories get more likes than reasoned arguments. It’s clear that short tweets are more convincing with some people than logical and balanced discussions.
It’s also clear that people are getting lazy and think that a democracy is a never-ending state. That could be a tragic rationale to have. As Thomas Jefferson said, maintaining a democracy is hard work. In order to make thoughtful choices at the ballot box means studying the issues to determine the best path to take. Are we, for the most part, losing that ability today?
I don’t know if we are beyond the tipping point in our democracy or not, but we are getting closer to that sorry state and I propose that the reason is laziness. We latch on to a very flawed person or belief and disregard everything else. It is just easier, and lazier, to make a snap judgment instead of making the effort to come to an informed decision.
It is easier to latch onto a conspiracy theory instead of debunking it. Like the phrase “Make America Great Again”, that sounds good at first thought but if you study the facts you know that this phrase really means turning back the clock to a time that we deem better than today. Two things are wrong with this idea.
- The world, like it or not, is in a constant state of change and it always has been and always will be. You simply can’t change that fact.
- Many seem to forget that the past contained many or maybe, even more, problems than the present, but different ones.
I grew up in the 1960s and was of a draft age during the Vietnam war. Almost 60,000 of my generation lost their lives in that totally needless war. Compared to the about 6,000 in the ten years of war in the Middle East today. How can those be the good old days?
Double-digit inflation took a serious toll on wages. Compared to the low 2% or less today those were troubling times. I can remember one year during the 1970s the annual inflation rate exceeded 15 %. That is many times what it is today. It decimated many senior citizen’s nest egg and caused some pretty severe times for them. How could those be the good old days?
And then there was the Civil Rights movement that finally broke the Jim Crow. That was the racial caste system which operated primarily in southern and border states, between 1877 and the mid-1960s. Jim Crow was more than a series of rigid anti-black laws. It was a way of life. Of course breaking Jim Crow also meant a mass migration in the south from the Democratic party to the Republican party. I remember the political unrest at the 1968 political conventions dwarfed anything around today.
Plainly speaking, the “Good Ole Days” that many dream about now wasn’t any better, and maybe worse, than today. We need to find 21st-century solutions to our 21st-century problems instead of looking backward. Will that take work? Of course it will but considering the consequences it is worth the effort.
The article below got me to thinking a little more deeply about our time in the USA and if we can survive them as a democracy. Tribalism is how we as humans survived to become the thinking creatures we are. It is at the core of our human experience.
Tribalism, it’s always worth remembering, is not one aspect of human experience. It’s the default human experience. It comes more naturally to us than any other way of life. For the overwhelming majority of our time on this planet, the tribe was the only form of human society. We lived for tens of thousands of years in compact, largely egalitarian groups of around 50 people or more, connected to each other by genetics and language, usually unwritten. Most tribes occupied their own familiar territory, with widespread sharing of food and no private property. A tribe had its own leaders and a myth of its own history. It sorted out what we did every day, what we thought every hour.
Tribalism takes us back to our beginnings but what about democracy? In many ways, democracy and tribalism are exact opposites. Tribalism focuses totally on your small group and democracy is about everyone, despite what group they may be in as being equal in status and character. That is one of the things that makes the U.S. unique in all the world. Of course, when our constitution was written almost 250 years ago we were struggling with tribalistic tendencies and to some extent we still are today.
Tribalism even today is very dominant in many places in the world. The Middle East is the biggest example. Every country seems to have one tribe battling another for control of the country. The Sunnis and the Shiites have been battling each other for many centuries. Yugoslavia was once a single country but has since been broken up into Slovenia, Croatia, Macedonia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Serbia, and Montenegro. After the fall of the USSR, Russia claimed that they were now a democracy. Well, that worked out to some degree for a decade or so until Putin consolidated power back to a dictatorship.
Brexit is also a return to tribalism in one degree. Many Brits just don’t like the idea of being part of a bigger group in the EU. They want more control over their lives, and isn’t that what tribalism is all about? How that is going to work out is undetermined.
Maintaining a democracy is hard work and that is why so many countries seem to fail at it. I liked the thought in the quote above that the founding fathers assumed that we could overcome tribalism as a country. We have at least to some degree managed that for a couple hundred years now, but will we continue that trend? As far as I am concerned the jury is still out on that answer. Will we eventually, maybe sooner rather than later, reverse back to tribalism. It seems that RedAmerica/BlueAmerica is a step in that direction. When we start thinking almost totally about ourselves tribalism is soon to follow. I guess time will eventually tell…
It is becoming abundantly clear to me now that when it comes to video media that the tails wags the dog. Keeping me informed so that I can make wise decisions is not a prominent goal of most telemedia companies, especially those like CNN, MSNBC and FOX.
Unlike much of the rest of the world our news sources depend of advertising to stay in existence. The more views they can get, the more they can charge for advertising. It is as simple as that. For those of us who are at least middle aged, we know of a different time. The network news organizations were there for a public benefit not a profit center. If the proper regulations had been in place that could have stayed the same today. Like everything else it seems, the Reagan administration was all about deregulation so when the cable news orgs happened on the scene they we untethered to make as much money as they could.
Being a profit center the news is now driven by views. The more people to watch the more profit they claim. Sensationalizing what they cover is now the norm. If they can find controversy that is what they do. The more controversy the better. It is no longer profitable to cover mundane things like the details of annual budget reports. Things that help us make better decisions went out the window years ago.
The easy, or should I say lazy, way to stay informed now is to lock onto one worldview and disregard everything else. That is what drives FOX and MSNBC totally and CNN most often. It now takes hard work to glean through multiple news sources to find the “truth” of almost any matter.
Like Thomas Jefferson said a democracy depends on an informed electorate and that creature is quickly disappearing from the landscape now. Does that mean that our democracy is doomed it failure or simply that we will fall to become an “also ran” country. If the latter is the case it looks like China is getting well positioned to take our place.
The tail wags the dog in too much of our world now. Being a democracy it is up to us to change that fact if we are not too lazy to do it now. That is the question of the day….