A blog to give a voice to our concern about the continued erosion of our democratic processes not only within the House of Commons and within our electoral system but also throughout our society. Here you will find articles about the current problems within our parliamentary democracy, about actions both good and bad by our elected representatives, about possible solutions, opinions and debate about the state of democracy in Canada, and about our roles/responsibilities as democratic citizens. We invite your thoughtful and polite comments upon our posts and ask those who wish to post longer articles or share ideas on this subject to submit them for inclusion as a guest post.
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Sunday, April 24, 2022

The Weakening of Democracy.

 “One of the biggest reasons for the weakening of democracy is the profound change that’s taken place in how we communicate and consume information,” Barack Obama, April 21 2022

In his presentation at Stanford University on Thursday, former U.S. President Barack Obama presented his audience with a stark choice: “Do we allow our democracy to wither, or do we make it better?” Having in a small way over the last decade tried to do my small part in protecting and promoting our Canadian democracy via my writings on these pages but now in my dotage and finding it hard to find the words to express my concerns with where our democratic institutions both here and elsewhere across the world are headed I can but offer a few more of Obama's words for consideration.

One of the biggest reasons for the weakening of democracy is the profound change that’s taken place in how we communicate and consume information,” he said. “Do we allow our democracy to wither, or do we make it better?” Obama asked. “That is the choice.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin's invasion of Ukraine "isn't happening in a vacuum, autocrats and aspiring strongmen have become emboldened around the globe. They're actively subverting democracy. They're undermining hard-won human rights. They're ignoring international law."

"Right here in the United States of America," Obama continued, "we just saw a sitting president deny the clear results of an election and help incite a violent insurrection at the nation's Capitol. Not only that, but a majority of his party, including many who occupy some of the highest offices in the land, continue to cast doubt on the legitimacy of the last election and are using it to justify laws that restrict the vote and make it easier to overturn the will of the people in states where they hold power."

But not all problems we’re seeing now are an inevitable byproduct of this new technology. They’re also the result of very specific choices, made by the companies that have come to dominate the internet generally, and social media platforms in particular. Decisions that intentionally or not have made democracies more vulnerable,” “At the end of the day the internet is a tool, social media is a tool. At the end of the day tools don’t control us. We control them. And we can remake them,” Obama said. 

The phrase that got my attention and encouraged me to post this commentary was his description of what is happening mostly via 'social media, that being “ flooding a country’s public square with enough raw sewage that citizens no longer know what to believe,” The full quote, with which as a non subscriber to any 'social media' I fully agree with, follows......

People like [Russian President Vladimir] Putin, and Steve Bannon for that matter, understand it’s not necessary for people to believe this information in order to weaken democratic institutions. You just have to flood a country’s public square with enough raw sewage. You just have to raise enough questions, spread enough dirt, plant enough conspiracy theorizing, that citizens no longer know what to believe,” Obama said. (Bannon is a former strategist for former President Trump.)

Once they lose trust in their leaders, mainstream media, in political institutions, in each other, the possibility of truth — the game’s won,” he added.

Enough said, unfortunately I have been unable to post a link to the full text of his speech as I have been unable to find a printed transcript !

Update... Here is a link to a transcript, well worth readung as democracy is indeed under attack!


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Lorne said...

It's worth noting, Rural, that effluent flows downhill as a general rule. Clearly, there are enough bottom feeders to consume massive quantities of this sewage.

Rural said...

....and it is clearly not limited to the U.S. of Eh either Lorne!