I’m excited that I have a new podcast co-host, Ellen Snortland, who has been an award-winning Pasadena Weekly Columnist for many years. When I was guffawing about the presidential debate on Wednesday morning, she stopped me and said, “That was not a debate. That cannot be considered an actual debate. In fact,” she went on to say, “this country has not had a real debate in decades.”
While I did not have the opportunity to probe further into her statement, it rang true. I suspect it has to do with capitalism and media run amok, politics turned into entertainment, and not the good kind. Dumbed-down reality TV kind.
In the 19th century, even before radio, it was considered the best entertainment in town to pack into a hall or sanctuary and see two Universalist or Unitarian ministers do “preach-offs,” where they would debate theological concepts, pitting one against the other. Whoever gets the most applause at the end wins.
Back then, ideas and arguments mattered; people listened attentively, respectfully. These were always the building blocks of democracy. We may not agree, but we conducted ourselves toward one another with decency, and heard each other out.
Journalism has always been another building block of democracy, for it is how ideas, facts, and events are disseminated. Needless to say, our president is doing his damnedest to dismantle democracy. The reason? Because he knows he can’t win in a legitimate one.
I remember people thought I was extreme when I started talking about fascism and false prophets back in early 2017. If I hadn’t become a minister, OR an attorney, honestly . . . what I really wanted to do was to be a journalist (for Rolling Stone, no less). But ministers are also journalists, and yes, at times, lawyers, as they lay out their preaching message in arguments.
This Sunday we look at the vestige that’s left of American journalism, and I argue about what we can do to save this precious building block of democracy. Before it’s too late.
See you Sunday!