Democracy online

Dear Donald – 

You know, they say that ignorance is bliss. There’s no doubt that the last few weeks of my, and a large swath of Anerica’s, life would have been much more blissful without any knowledge of what’s been happening to the country that I love. It’s painfully clear that you don’t care about details, only power and personal loyalty. An undercurrent of bigotry and hatred runs through everything that you do, whether it’s disdain for the poor, minorities, or foreigners. This is not who we are and, as much as I want to close my eyes and make it all go away, I can’t. 

You see, ignorance is anathema to a well-functioning democracy. People need to know who they’re voting for and what they stand for. Without the ability to know and understand candidates and issues, they fall back on pre-existing biases and prejudices. 

“I’m not voting for her because she looks like a bitch.”

“He looks like a Vice President.”

“Unemployment went up under Obama.”

“He understands white working class people.”

Without context or facts, we focus on the superficial. If a candidate says the right things with the right intonation, then they must be the one for you. But when you actually read policy proposals or look at voting history or conflicts of interest, then a whole new picture emerges. 

Citizens in a well-functioning democracy must have ready access to high-quality, accurate information about their country and their candidates. Without it, they stand no chance to vote in their own best interests. 

That’s why it’s so disturbing that your new FCC chair just made it more difficult for poor families to get low cost high speed internet access. Saying it amounted to “midnight regulation,” Ajit back-tracked a decision that would allow poor families to use their credits under the Lifeline program to access broadband internet, instead of just a landline or mobile voice service. What’s the agenda in stopping poor folks from getting online? If the voucher is the same cost to the government, why do we care if they use it for Internet instead of phone service, unless there’s something about the information superhighway that’s problematic. 

Easy access to accurate information about what it is you and your administration are doing is critical to the 2018 and 2020 elections being a true referendum on you and your policies. Maybe that’s the point. 

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