Terry Woster finds a social media acquaintance reposting Trumpy hyperbole challenging readers to name one thing Hillary Clinton has done. As a Sanders Democrat, I won’t exert myself too hard on that question (SCHIP, Gaza cease fire, Pediatric Research Equity Act, 9/11 aid…). But when other Democrats exerted themselves in response to this easy challenge, Woster saw the original poster ignore those answers and blindly taunt back, “Still waiting.”
Woster worries that such willful density represents a decline of democratic discourse:
…Back in journalism school I learned to call that “a free exchange of ideas in the marketplace of truth.”
Sometimes in that free exchange of ideas, someone’s presentation of facts can change someone else’s mind. That used to be acceptable. Even political leaders once were allowed to change their minds, if presented with facts that supported the change. That’s a luxury not allowed in many quarters these days.
When facts are whatever a person wishes them to be, real conversation is impossible. We talk to prevail, not to learn. We talk to divide, not to unite, to win and to make someone else lose.
These days, when I wake up worried in the night, sometimes it’s about the future of our democracy [Terry Woster, “Failure of Democracy… a Nightmare,” Mitchell Daily Republic, 2016.06.22].
Learn and unite, or divide and defeat—how are you using your social media and your mouth?