The changing media landscape plays another central role in this eroding of citizen democracy. The number of news reporters whose job it once was to serve as watchdogs for taxpayers and the public has been depleted by 50 percent in some news organizations over the last five years or so.
There’s just a lot more room for political shenanigans to go undetected. And the media that remains — mostly broadcast and national — is aimed at building up the “conflict industry” – overstating or even creating conflict in every story to generate ratings.
And Americans must understand that in the end, they also contribute to this mess by their apathy. The current status quo in Congress shouldn’t be tolerated. There should be massive rallies calling for the ouster of those who would subvert our representative democracy into a road-kill republic, where only the vultures win.
But it isn’t easy for the average citizen. They’re busy trying to keep afloat in an economy that has offered more work for less pay. It’s time consuming to be informed and more so to act on that information.
But unfortunately, becoming informed and active is our best option. Other strategies have so far offered very little success or progress. One commentator urged action by citizens to “scare the hell” out of these people in Washington. That can’t come too soon.
Maybe that’s what World War II vets were thinking when they knocked down the shutdown barricades at the World War II memorial in Washington Tuesday. They were “mad as hell and not going to take it anymore.”
We hope this shutdown makes clear to political leaders what’s at stake. It may be more than just the next election.