Do lies and distortions doom democracy?

I fear for democracy. To survive, a democratic nation needs an educated citizenry and a citizenry that appreciates the values that created that Society. In the USA, we all praise our Founding Fathers (there were no women in the early forming of our government nearly 225 years ago) for setting a vision that has created the world’s longest standing democracy. Yet, few today recognize that those values included recognition of the diversity and differences among people, recognition of human rights and a support for openness.

Our democracy may fall basically because one of its major principles: the right of free speech. This right has provided a soapbox (aided and abetted by the Internet, cable television news and other new technologies) for all sorts of charlatans and demagogues to spout outright lies and distortions. When the citizens are fed such lies, their decision-making becomes skewed and wrong-headed. In the US, our decision-making is being so affected, making it almost impossible to pass a credible health reform bill, to attack global warming or to make the proper decision about Afghanistan.

Even President Obama’s considerable speaking talents seem unable to steer the debate into more appropriate directions.

But, I have hope (to use Obama’s theme) that the American people have enough commonsense to soon begin to separate out the facts from the deliberate lies and distortions that are so poisoning our current political discourse.


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