The Rise of “Niche Media,” the end of compromise and the division of America

Constitution_of_the_United_States,_page_1It’s a dangerous and pervasive myth to believe that America was founded by men with unwavering principles–so passionate in their beliefs that they refused to compromise.

America was founded on compromise. Jefferson’s removal of all references to slavery in the Declaration of Independence allowed the colonies to unite in their separation from England. The U.S. Constitution as we know it was the product of vigorous debate and was only ready to be submitted to the states for ratification following The Great Compromise and the Three-Fifths Compromise.

Politicians used to be better compromisers. Americans used to be better compromisers. I think that essentially democratic characteristic has been lost. I think the ever-increasing access to compartmentalized/niche information sources is partly to blame.

There is simply less of a need for us to have to hear the opinions of others– it’s easier for us to tune into radio and TV or log onto websites that only support our own way of thinking. We can lazily stay in our ideological comfort zones–slowly morphing into rigid zealots and fanatics.

In the pre-cable TV, pre-Internet past, our choices were more limited. We were forced to see and hear more opposing points of view. It might have made us uncomfortable, but I think that discomfort was a great thing–sometimes simply the start of a vigorous conversation or at other times the prelude to a productive compromise.

How do we reinvigorate America with the spirit of compromise? First, we have to realize that the effort will not be comfortable. We will have to genuinely listen to opinions that will grate against our own firmly held beliefs. Second, we have to realize that it will take a sustained effort–it’s not something we can try for a week, post our efforts on Facebook, Tweet about and then move on.

With that in mind, I challenge everyone, everyday, to access one source of “information” that you perceive as presenting an opposing viewpoint or bias on the world. Some simple examples: if you watch CNN regularly, watch FOX News (really watch and listen) for 15 or 30 minutes; if you listen to Hannity or Rush, try NPR for an hour. Do it everyday and tell people what you are doing and why.

Why? Because America–as embodied in our Constitution, as visualized by our Founders, as manifested in its first 200 years–will only survive if we recapture the ability to listen and compromise. The other option is gridlock, stagnation and decay.

 

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~ by kipwkoelsch on October 10, 2017.

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