Democracy Is Lost When We Refuse to Listen

By Renee Lishka

25407_2I think democracy is lost when we choose to shut off the other side of the argument. We live in a country where we have the right to agree or disagree, but if we choose to only hear one side of the argument you’re merely chipping away what makes this country a democracy. I think social media makes it too convenient for democracy to get lost.

I have had so many alerts and have seen so many posts that argue both sides of the same issue that is up for debate. From gun laws, to the Black Lives Matter movement, to the issues raised about Planned Parenthood and a woman’s right to choose. My concern isn’t whether or not I should unfriend the person who makes statements through memes or posts of their own about one side of the issue or the other. My concern are those issues and it is important for me to understand someone else’s point of view about those issues, regardless if I agree with them or not.

It’s not easy for me to post my personal views and opinions when it comes to issues, current events and politics. I mostly stick to simple, mundane things like outings with my family and personal mile stones in my life. It’s safe, nobody can argue with the progress you’re making in your own life and it doesn’t piss anyone off. However there are certain posts that I would love to comment on and I would love to voice my opinion on, but what stops me is the fear of being “unfriended” because I simply don’t agree. I openly disagree with a lot of issues with my friends and I still consider them good friends.

People are finding it too easy to avoid debate by simply un-following, unfriending or blocking someone if they don’t agree with them. My questions is, how does that help with progress? How does ignoring the other side of the argument push us towards progressive thinking when we refuse to listen to someone else’s point of view?

In the last month I have watched both the Republican Debate and the Democratic Debate. As someone who grew up in a Democratic household, I was stepping into new territory by watching the Republican debate. I found it to be eye-opening and for once I could actually understood their perspective on a lot of issues. There were a few things said during the Republican Debate that I actually agreed with and a few things during the Democratic Debate I did not agree with. It wasn’t enough for me to switch the channel.

There was one aspect of each debate that I agree with at all and that was the fact that candidates on both sides were determined to take over the senate. They want congress to be all Democrat or all Republican and the truth is, that doesn’t work either! You cannot have a lop-sided government! It does not work that way! You have a one sided Government and all you get are half of American citizens unhappy because their voices aren’t being heard and no one is advocating for what they believe in.

What this government needs is balance! What we need on social media is balance. The news media needs balance. What we need is to reinstate the Fairness Doctorine.

The Fairness Doctorine was a policy of the United States Federal Communications Commission (FCC), introduced in 1949, that required the holders of broadcast licenses to both present controversial issues of public importance and to do so in a manner that was—in the Commission’s view—honest, equitable, and balanced. The FCC eliminated the Doctrine in 1987, and in August 2011 the FCC formally removed the language that implemented the Doctrine.

Bill Maher likes to refer to the GOP as being in the bubble. Which basically means that GOP candidates and supporters believe only what pushes the GOP agenda. In that sense, I think it’s accurate to say that they’re not the only ones who are in the bubble. It seems to me that we are all in our own bubbles. And honestly, I think it’s time to burst those bubbles and start listening to each other again. Because if we want to keep our country a strong and civilized democracy, that’s the only way democracy will be saved and it’s the only way our country can stay strong.

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