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Every single one of us has more propaganda power in our pockets than any government had at its disposal between the world wars.Instead of being independent thinkers who are overwhelmed by and succumb to government “newspeak,” we willingly create, consume, and spread propaganda ourselves. We watch and share conspiracy theories and other “news” riddled with half-truths.We only have no credible, neutral “umpire” of American politics—there is no media organization that we all trust to tell us what we need to know to make good decisions, and there is no government institution that we all trust to uphold the rule of law.
Our current age of catastrophe is characterized by a fundamental breakdown of the nation’s public sphere—as evidenced by widespread distrust, political polarization, and frustration.
On October 25, 1931—during the previous age of catastrophe—philosopher John Dewey gave a radio lecture on the relationship between education and democracy. There are two important differences between then and now.
Our sources of information are at war with one another, which makes it impossible to find common ground.
The one thing that Americans do agree on is that it’s getting worse: nearly 8 in 10 Americans free speech.
And, what’s worse, our media, government institutions, and elected officials seem to prefer us to be partisans.
Without hyperbole, we might describe our moment as another “age of catastrophe,” similar to the one that saw the collapse of many economies and democracies between the two world wars.
Researchers know that there’s a reciprocal relationship between participating in public deliberation and trusting the outcomes of the decisions made.
This means that we need to learn skills in public deliberation.
It’s obvious that our political discourse is broken.
People don’t just yell at one another on cable television, they also do it in restaurants, and on social media. Our political opinions are further divided by gender, race, education, and income levels.