What constitutes our democracy and what we must do to maintain it
The current state of our democracy is questionable. Partisanship is high. Few policies with majority support — policies that would fight things like climate change or raise the minimum wage — can pass Congress.
And beyond that is the nature of presidential elections. Seven of the last eight Republican presidents have not won the popular vote, and our previous presidential election was nearly overthrown by a coup attempt.
Two authors of a new book called ‘The Paradox of Democracy’ suggest that our democracy may be slipping – and not just because of the way it tends to give power to the land over people. On the contrary, it may be slipping because our free and open society is too free and too open.
“What’s different with digital media, especially social media, is that every individual has access to the power of mass communication.” — Zac Gershberg, Idaho State University
Listen: How to protect our democracy from bad actors.
Zac Gershberg is an associate professor of journalism and media at Idaho State University and co-author of “The Paradox of Democracy: Free Speech, Open Media, and Perilous Persuasion.”
He says this because everyone has access to mass communication channels. This means that these same channels can be co-opted by people trying to spread false and harmful information, thus making our democracy more vulnerable.
“What’s different with digital media, especially social media, is that every individual has access to the power of mass communication,” says Gershberg. “So it’s no longer that citizens and consumers passively absorb information and persuasive efforts, it’s that we can now create and publish our own writing, our own recordings.”