I had just read this article on the Times, showing just how much Republicans and Democrats hate each other. This would seem like a trivial, unavoidable problem of human nature: we hate people who think different than we do. Upon looking at the bigger picture, however, we begin to see that this inevitable hatred grows to a engulfs our democracy, rendering the qualities that make it so great useless.
While some of human nature contributes to the grinding hatred between the 2 parties, this “American Plague” still was the result of the media’s decision to place money above democracy. Mainstream media adds fuel to the fire by pouring vials of fear into their viewers’ minds. Muslims. ISIS. Terrorists. Murders. Scandals. What happens to their minds after prolonged exposure to an echo chamber of fear? They seek refuge in the groups they belong to and become cynical about politicians and the “opposing side.” It makes sense—exposure to a constant barrage of negativity makes people submerge to their enclaves to confirm their beliefs. They seek some confirmation of their beliefs after they have been bombarded with dizzying flashes of negative news.
The root of the problem of political polarisation comes from people’s desire to confirm their beliefs. They become less open to other opinions and are “blindly loyal” to the groups they are in. People are then, less likely to read news from opposite sides of the political spectrum, and automatically will deafen their ears to someone with different political viewpoints. This is not democracy. Democracy is open-minded critical discussion of ideas. It is not sinking into our own enclaves of confirmation. Being told by someone else that you are right naturally feels good, but it completely invalidates our democracy. It depends on a willingness to cooperate even when we share different viewpoints. The media discourages this by dumping vials of fear.
Newspapers and TV have long been considered the “right-hand of democracy,” and the “Fourth Estate of government,” but it rather is disappointing to see the right hand of our democracy smeared and trodden with corporate values. They need to know that democracy is not about choosing sides and they need to stop discouraging people from blindly choosing sides. Democracy is about a compromise, a strong determination not to sink back into our own enclaves and instead come out with an open mouth, and an open mind.