Hope rests not with conventional strategies but with adopting a clear agenda that includes but is not limited to Medicare for all, a guaranteed basic income for all people, affordable housing, strengthening Social Security, student loan debt forgiveness, free college tuition and an aggressive response by our government to global warming. All these initiatives are genuinely possible despite the claims of some establishment Democrats, such as U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein.
So just how long will the Republican Party leadership and Trump’s supporters continue to support a president who obviously cannot be trusted to speak truthfully at any level in his professional and about his personal life? Harvard University should do a psychological measurement study before we no longer live in a democracy. The question is rhetorical and existential as well, and, as gaudy as the once-upon-a-time story of the president and the porn star might be, it’s important to the well-being of what’s left of our declining democracy.
Will the United States continue to be governed by an authoritarian and anti-democratic narcissist surrounded by unqualified sycophants and opportunists or will it elect decisive Democratic Party majorities in the House and Senate that will provide desperately needed checks and balances on President Donald Trump’s chaotic tyranny?
The only solution to the existential dilemma threatening us all whether we use social media or not is for governments to require platforms, and that includes search engines, to be legally responsible for the veracity and intention of the information they publish just like newspapers. The 2018 election looms yet here we are still drowning in a sea of lies on social media while Zuckerberg has been given yet another pass by lawmakers who could regulate his company.
Zuckerberg stressed so many times that the Facebook mission was to “bring the world closer together,” or some version of that, that it became, for me at least, an Orwellian-like slogan with fascist overtones. I realize the word fascism, under the Trump presidency, is getting used a lot these days, but Zuckerberg’s constant repetition of the refrain gave it an eerie Big-Brother quality and his refusal to simply concede openly that Facebook exists to make money made it The Big Lie. What’s Zuckerberg and Facebook going to do with the world once it’s all brought together under one platform? The idea that money is somehow secondary to the mission of Facebook is ludicrous, just another corporate deflection. For the record, Facebook deploys personal data to micro-target its users for advertising that generates billions of dollars of year in revenues. That is why it exists.
There are no easy answers to the recent emergence of the myriad of problems social media has created by de-centering truth, promoting a reductionist rhetoric to debate serious matters and using personal data to sell advertising. These problems threaten our democracy. Trump can use Twitter so well because it encourages and even rewards low-information people like himself to lie and bully. That’s the way it makes money. Twitter should pull the plug on Trump, but it won’t because he’s just too good for its business.