Democracy in the Electronic Wasteland

Scanning the TV news tonight, I was struck again by the massive and incoherent stimuli transmitted to American minds in the guise of national news. Is it a post-modern nightmare or Dante's Inferno?

The rapid shift from one image or story to another--now comic, now trivial, now tragic--undermines one's critical faculties. Drug and car ads compete with murders in Iraq and a "nuclear option" for the Senate.

The common sense questions--such as, why our government is borrowing madly, tempting nature, engineering foreign nations, cutting taxes for some while increasing financial burdens for others--get lost in the psychic distractions of a perverse media acupuncture of the mind.

The public forum is overloaded with "junk" news, science and politics.

Long ago, America's founders assumed an educated electorate and the deliberative discussions and reflections that a slower age invited. Then it was an Age of the Book. Now it is the Age of the Screen and its attendant attention deficit. One report has it that email, web surfing and cell phone use dull the mind more than marijuana.

In Oakland, I have learned the power of neighborhood politics and face-to-face democracy. Democracy lives where citizens have the time and the place for reading and conversation--without the debilitating distortions of electronic transmissions.

I dedicate this blog--in these trying times--to Common Sense. May the written word once again capture the political imagination.

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