Friday, December 02, 2016

The "Post-Factual World" and American Democracy

As a Facebook friend pointed out, "post-factual world" is a term now. She went on to write:
That's how low the bar has been set.

Regardless of party, this should be unacceptable.

Post-truth politics (also called post-factual politics) is a political culture in which debate is framed largely by appeals to emotion disconnected from the details of policy, and by the repeated assertion of talking points to which factual rebuttals are ignored.
I think she's right and that it's a bi-partisan (non-partisan) threat to our country. I responded:
It's all apparently about "feelings" now, irrespective of facts.

This is evidenced in both parties. Anderson Cooper rightly and gently called out one of the CNN contributors last week for saying that millennials feel cheated "because of this electoral college thing."

The electoral college may have outlived its usefulness. But American kids are taught about the electoral college in elementary school. It's a fact of life for now, no matter how a person may feel about it. Nobody got cheated by the system that's been in place since 1789.

Similarly, the "feelings" of people on the other side that crime is up and that every immigrant seeking asylum from oppression and violence in Muslim countries in the US is a terrorist are heedless of facts.

Facts should matter. But in a society that has dismissed the notion of objective truth, entry into a "post-factual" world is, I suppose, inevitable. It's frightening, un-American, and, I might add, un-Christian.

This post-factual world is also abetted by an intellectual laziness that prefers being entertained to learning about things like truth or facts or listening to those with whom we may reflexively disagree.

Democracy is a messy business. As Churchill said, it's the worst form of government except for every other form that's been tried. But unless citizens are "diligent," as you put it, democracy is lost. For some though, life is about being a sated lab rat. They're perfectly willing to let everyone do their thinking for long as they get what they want and don't "feel" violated. (Their feelings being a moving target, subject the their fickleness.)

People seem to want a kind of elected monarch who will act in accordance with their feelings. This is the kind of king Jesus' fellow Jews tried to force Him into being in John's Gospel. He resisted. That was the beginning of people's disenchantment with Him. Their feelings were hurt.

At the conclusion of the Constitutional Convention, someone supposedly approached Benjamin Franklin and asked, "What have we got--a Republic or a monarchy?" Franklin answered: "A Republic, if you can keep it."

An uninformed, self-indulgent, selfish citizenry that ignores and doesn't care about the facts cannot keep a republic.

Time to pray more. And insist on making fact-based, not feeling-based decisions.
[Blogger Mark Daniels is pastor of Living Water Lutheran Church in Centerville, Ohio.]

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