Is that where we find Ourselves Now
As I continue reading Ron Chernow’s biography of Alexander Hamilton I smile wondering what we would have thought had Hamilton not convinced President Washington to delete the part of his Farewell Address excoriating the press of his day as “filled with all the invective that disappointment, ignorance of facts, and malicious falsehoods could invent to misrepresent my policies.” A Gallup Poll during late 2016 found that the mass media’s public approval rating was down to about 32% with a very recent poll reported by the Hill finding that a scant 39% find it honest.
We recall that special speech for warning us about “permanent foreign alliances”, something we’ve obviously ignored to the delight of today’s mass media, but perhaps, the passage Hamilton insisted be deleted might have served us better. Both warnings, if taken seriously, might have avoided millions of deaths in unnecessary wars and permitted us to become a happier and less divided People. Still, real participatory popular government, what we call democracy, requires accurate and complete information on which to base electoral decisions, and that seems as elusive today as it ever has. Almost all mass sources of information relied on by the populace are utterly politicized and manipulative, distortive if not always blatantly false. And that includes the newest mass source of information, social media.
If democracy cannot function properly without accurate and complete information, where does that leave us? Something to ponder now and wonder at on that sad day when democracy is no longer an option; when like the Romans of the early imperial period, our system of government retains only its trappings.
But then; is that where we find ourselves now?
© Guillermo Calvo Mahé; Manizales, 2017; all rights reserved