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State of democracy

10/28/04 12:00AM By Frank Bryan
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(Host) Commentator Frank Bryan says that the environment and our democracy may have something in common -- both may be endangered.


(Bryan) Globally recognized Vermont writer Bill McKibben, resident of Ripton, is best known for his seminal work on global warming, "The End of Nature." But his newer book, entitled simply "Enough," is equally important.

Simply put, its thesis explores the profound threat rampant and unchecked technological advancements in the field of bio-eugenics pose to the very nature human life itself.

When one applies McKibben's provocative and magnificently bold thesis to the current national elections, one wants to open one's window, lean out and yell: ENOUGH!

We are destroying our democracy.

Our democratic republic was fashioned to solve the problem of factions and factionalism, which we knew would be death of the deliberative process essential to governing a continental republic from the center.

In their wildest imaginings, there is no way the founders could have forecast even the existence of the modern electronic media, to say nothing of its impact on representative democracy.

Think about it: What would have come out of a constitutional convention in Philadelphia in the post-modern age of instantaneous broadcasting of sound and sight?

Could Lincoln or Roosevelt have withstood today's political culture, where every mistake is instantaneously mico-analized by packs of media wolves bent on bringing down anyone in power? Errors of judgment are not allowed. Changing one's mind is called lying.

In today's political culture we would have impeached Kennedy for the Bay of Pigs deceit and disaster, instead of forgiving him, as I, at least, am glad we did.

We saw what happened to our own Howard Dean by a media that was more interested in visible salability than the truth.

Our elections dance to the tune of instantaneous polling, horse race mentality, October surprises, partisanship gone berserk, sound bite idiocy, and intolerance for human error.

All this is driven by privately owned capitalist-based mega-media corporations that fear only one thing: low ratings. The profit motive prevails and insures our politics will slide steadily downward to achieve soap opera status, supported by advertisements appealing to a society that lives on excess and gluttony.

Smart people become buffoons. Good people sell out. Reason is lost. Tolerance is forgotten.

The worst fears of the founders have come to pass. Technology has given us the means to circumvent the genius of the republic so eloquently laid out in the Federalist Papers.

The Republic has been replaced with mass, thoughtless, instantaneous, lowest common denominator democracy.

Democracy works in town meeting.

And there is nothing so unlike a town meeting as a techno-based American Presidential election.

This is Frank Bryan in Starksboro.

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