Medium published my new article “The Democracy that Never Was”
This presidential election has demonstrated clearer than ever just how powerful the media are. Their ability to choose what to show, what not to show, and how to show what they choose to show fashions people’s views and thinking according to their whims. It’s come to a point where they don’t wait for the declaration of the official results of the presidential election in order to report them; they decide them, and even an official denial by Congress will not make them change their reporting.
The media didn’t come to prominence overnight. Over the years, they realized the power they have over people’s views and understood that this power is worth a lot of money. This created a link between power, wealth, and the transfer of information. From that moment on, there was no democracy. It’s not as though the people were really the sovereign before, but at least the rulers were somewhat accountable to their constituency because of their desire to keep “serving the people,” namely to be reelected and stay in office.
However, once politicians realized that to be reelected, you needn’t serve the people but the people who report to the people, their commitment to their constituency vanished. Instead, politicians started placating the press in order to get favorable coverage. Afterwards, tycoons started buying newspapers and TV channels left and right and became media moguls. They did this not necessarily because the media was such a lucrative business, but because an owner of a newspaper or a TV channel can decide what is written or aired, how, and what conclusions the media stories will promote regarding topics of interest. Now, when politicians want good coverage, they have to pay the media moguls with benefits such as energy production contracts, passing of certain laws, land ownership acts, currency laws, favorable tariffs and customs, lower taxes, and so forth. The rich have many needs that politicians can satisfy. If all it takes is to say or write some nice words about them on television, why not? Everyone benefits, except the public.
The recent presidential election has exposed this dismal state more than any prior election, and the whole structure is now falling apart. It is high time it did that. Now the question is what will come instead of the corrupt structure.
In the end, there are only two ways: up or down. Right now, the situation is going down fast. The tensions between the two sides are escalating, the media are fueling them, the hatred is unrestrained, and both sides feel that they are fighting for the future of the nation. This is a recipe for war.
There is, however, another option: to go up. Going up means canceling the Cancel Culture and accepting that neither side will change. Moreover, only if both sides maintain their positions, something new will come out of the carcass of democracy: a new thinking, a new perception of the world.
It is not a compromise; both sides will maintain their views and will not give an inch. However, they will also allow the other side to maintain its position, and both sides will grasp that without the other, they themselves do not exist. The existence of one side enables and defines the existence of the other. Just as there is no heat and you cannot even define heat in the absence of cold, there is also no Right in the absence of Left, and no Left in the absence of Right. Nor can either be defined.
Once we come to value the existence of the other side, we can gradually develop positive emotions toward it. However, that will come later. The first step toward mending the American society, after the demise of democracy, is the acceptance of all political views without expecting any of them to change, and without trying to reach a compromise, but simply to accept that all views are genuine and reflect people’s true feelings, and this is what makes them legitimate.