Or is It Doomed?

Whenever the people are well-informed, they can be trusted

with their own government. Thomas Jefferson, 1789

It has been long acknowledged that a democracy requires an informed citizenry. But it could also be said that a democracy requires informed politicians, political pundits and public media. Today in America, is the majority well-informed? (Informed = possessing reliable information; knowledgeable, educated)

I confess that I am pessimistic about the future of a free speech, majority rule democracy in America because of the current reliance on falsehoods as the basis of political discourse. My pessimism may be the result of the TV news I watch, the political pundits I listen to, the editorials and articles I read and the people I talk to. How can I become more optimistic? Warning: A lie can travel halfway around the world before the truth gets its shoes on.  Mark Twain

Here are some signs that democracy might be doomed.

  • Democracy relies on words and dialogue rather than force or money.
  • Opinion and prejudice instead of science and reason dominate our political dialogue.
  • Truth, science, objectivity, fact and reason are fundamentally different from opinion, prejudice, feeling and irrationality. 
  • Politicians and voters, the people making decisions about how the country runs — aren’t blank slates. They already have beliefs and “facts” in their minds.
  • The information and misinformation glut (Big Data) has made it easier for people to be wrong, and at the same time feel more certain that they are right.
  • A belief or opinion, even if it is wrong, still has consequences in reality.
  • Misinformed people often have the strongest political opinions.
  • It is well known that mankind is susceptible to ignorance and misinformation.
  • Money has been the main force dooming democracy — but illusion is catching up.

Here are some signs that democracy might be saved.

  • I can’t think of any right now. Can you?

(If modern technology, the internet and social media can establish and work toward a goal of improving and enlightening political discourse, that would be a positive sign).

This entry was posted in Democracy in Danger. Bookmark the permalink.


  1. Miriam Russell says:

    I totally agree with you. This is one of my favorite blogs you’ve written.

  2. June Coel says:

    Thanks HB, That was really a good one.I feel that one thing wrong is deregulating without checking why it was regulated in the first place. I was on a flight recently and sat next to an air traffic controller. He was getting close to retirement and said that since they were deregulated there had been so many near misses and other problems he could hardly wait to retire. Oops I just heard on the TV that there was a crash at SFO. I hope you and Gene are OK. I,m living with my daughter and son-in-law at Lincoln Hills, Ca, This is a great place but the temperature is pretty hot. They are adding a wing on there house for me so the air cond. has to be off a lot. So we go to the club house and swim or just sit around and read in the library. It,s really a great place. June

  3. Betsy Collard says:

    Hi there, I am home from the family reunion and have my granddaughter here for the week. What about the following week to get together. I will have had time to read the new post by then. I saw your picture on FB from Colorado and am sure it was a wonderful time. Betsy

    Date: Sat, 6 Jul 2013 21:31:39 +0000 To:

  4. Gene Unger says:

    HB,did you eat breakfast before you wrote this piece? You sound a little grumpy! What about our forefathers? They were grumpy too. As they forged the foundational documents for our democracy they had a lot of trouble agreeing! So they assigned the task to one person first and then hammered out an agreement. Less love of self and more love of others and an idea of a free country. They fought like cats and dogs, but loved the idea of freedom more than power.

    And these were the smart guys! They still fell short– Slavery! Any system based on power will fail. All religious systems based on power will fail. Only systems based on what’s best for your neighbor has a chance to succeed. Because we are all selfish it is always hard. Smart and dumb alike. Right now I am grumpy! I am not healing fast enough . I’m impatient. I don’t like pain. I can’t work in my garden. Don’t ask me to form a government this morning. It would be all about me! Somebody would accuse me of being a Independent Republicrat Haha . Still your dumb friend Gene

    Sent from my iPad

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