The Death of Deliberative Democracy

Written by Robert Justin Lipkin on August 6th, 2009

Bullies galore! The recent attacks on speakers in Democratic town hall meetings who are guilty of nothing more than trying to explain the various health care proposals to the American people is nothing less than a frontal attack on deliberative democracy, the tmpphps4Kik5[1]life-blood of the American republic.  Everyone should have a chance to speak at these events, even those who choose to speak vigorously and with passion, but not all at once, and not with the purpose of cancelling out debate if that’s what their purpose is. Yet, teams of bullies have descended on these meetings in various parts of the nation apparently orchestrated by Republican deep-pockets to shut down debate. The only ones who benefit from these disruptions are the insurance companies and their corporate backers. But the cost of transmogrifying democratic discourse into targets for attack dogs cannot be underestimated regarding the stability of deliberative democracy. It’s not just defeating health care that’s the problem, although that’s certainly a significant problem; more important, is the harm such intimidation does to public discourse. Democrats must learn how to respond–through advertisements among other appropriate ways–so that the anti-democratic dimension of this warfare is revealed.  In America, to reverse Von Clausewitz’s sentiment that war is politics by other means, in contemporary America, politics seems to be warfare by other means.  This trend needs to be reversed; public discourse must be a no bully zone.


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