November 25, 2016
The November 2016 election has made me think about democracy, government, and our society in new ways for the first time in my life. One topic that seems to keep coming up is this idea of truth in the media.
I think most people would say they’d rather read news they know to be true than live in a fantasy world where they read news they like but which they know to be false. It’s basically an alternate take on the famous thought experiment, the Experience Machine, and comes to the same conclusion: truth matters.
In fact, truth may be the single-most important attribute of the news we read. And if you really start to think about it, truth becomes a really slippery concept.
November 12, 2016
Whoever you voted for in the recent election, most people agree it was one of the most negative elections in their lifetime. People on both sides of the ballot used words like “disgusted”, “exhausted”, and “embittered” to describe their state of mind come November 8.
The candidate who won the electoral college lost the national popular vote. Hundreds of thousands of people have come out to protest that the winner is “not my president.” As a result of the election, virtually all levels of government will be controlled by Republicans, yet Democrats represent roughly 50% of the electorate.
And if that’s not enough, people’s trust in the media and the factual accuracy of the information they read is at an all-time low.
It seems to me Democracy 1.0 ain’t working out so well.
Actually, most Americans call the American system of government “democracy”, but even that term is loaded with nuance. Technically, the USA is a “federal presidential constitutional republic,” owing to the fact that it is a federation of states, that the people elect a president in a fair and free election, that the rights of all citizens are guaranteed by a founding constitution, and that the people do not directly vote on government matters (usually considered impractical), but rather elect representatives who do that for them.
For the rest of this blog post, I’ll just use the term “democracy 1.0” to mean all the above since it’s simpler and more in line with how people use the term in everyday conversation.
So is democracy 1.0 failing us? I think it is in some profound and interesting ways, and the point of writing this post is to explore how.