The myth of democracy
Can democracy be possible without well-informed voters?
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I confess that I’ve spent quite a few hours scratching my head and trying to find a way to write this column. Why? you may be asking. What’s so difficult about this particular piece that makes it so much harder?
And I ask you: How do you write a relevant and timely piece when, like in this case, your deadline is the day before the most important midterm elections ever (Monday) but won’t run until the day after (Wednesday)? In other words, the writer has no idea of the outcome of such electoral contest which, in all probability, will be the only story people will care about the day his article is published. Not a fun place for the journalist to be.
Experience, a stern teacher for sure, has taught me that no self-respecting journalist should get involved in the business of predicting the future – remember the last presidential election? --- so I will stay away from that dangerous minefield.
Yet, there is one question that must be responded to in the future, because it determines if we have a real democracy or only its corrupt caricature: Can democracy be possible without well-informed voters?
Founding Father Thomas Jefferson did not think so and made it clear that a well-informed electorate is a prerequisite to democracy.
Yet, how can the electorate be well-informed when the president, the man entrusted with the protection of the democratic process, spewed 1,104 complete or partial lies only in the month of October? (The Washington Post’s Fact Checker blog.)
Amazingly, in the 649 days between his inauguration and October 30, he told 6,420 lies, often foolishly spread by the very same media he takes such pleasure in disparaging.
As former president Barack Obama said in Florida last Friday at a rally for Andrew Gillum, the Democratic Party’s candidate for governor: “When words don’t mean anything, when truth doesn’t matter, when people can just lie with abandon, democracy can’t work!”
That, unfortunately, has been the reality in the months preceding tomorrow’s elections. No, words don’t mean anything anymore and truth doesn’t matter any longer because the man holding the highest office in the nation lies with total disregard for the consequences of his falsities.
Appealing to his followers’ racism and base instincts, Trump transformed an exodus of poor Hondurans fleeing a corrupt government, horrific violence and abject misery, and seeking asylum in the world’s richest country which, on top of it all, is partly responsible for the terrible conditions in the Central American nation, into an “invasion of very bad people.”
The fact that his despicable lies incite violent, racist armed vigilantes to travel to the border to “stop an attack on our nation,” as they pompously have stated, doesn’t faze the president. If innocent people are killed, so be it, he seems to think. For him, human life is not as important as winning an election by any means.
How could it faze him when Trump has shamelessly ordered 15,000 troops to the border – a bigger force than the one currently in Afghanistan—to confront desperate, exhausted women and children painfully abandoning their homes to save their lives?
As I write this column, I can’t stop thinking about tomorrow’s elections and about how on Wednesday, the day it will run, the U.S. will finally know if voters elected sanity, and at least a semblance of decency and compassion, over the whirlwind of lies, cruelty and corruption currently gripping the nation. It’s not an exaggeration to say that the future depends on it.