President Harry S. Truman said, “The experience of WWII, where Americans fought with valor from Iwo Jima to Normandy, taught us that recognition of our dependence upon one another is essential to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness of all mankind.”
Greed and addiction to power and wealth has over taken our government leaving behind average Americans who, as a result of their diminishing opportunities, are subjected to divisive lies as they search for answers to what happened to their part of the American dream. This American dream is not one of McMansions, european cars and designer clothes, but simply of a “chicken in every pot and a car in every garage.” As the addicts shamelessly grasp for all they can grab to feed their addiction with little regard for anyone else, they accumulate un-fulfilling things that have no meaning in what is really important in life which is sharing experiences and loving others.
I think it is difficult for average Americans to really criticize greed because many of us would love to be wealthy and powerful. But, we need to remember that greed has great cost to our souls, the essence of who we are, the part of us that deeply knows that a hungry child of the working poor is more important that the possession of a pair of designer shoes. This great divide between the wealthy and the average American is putting our democracy at great risk making authoritarian governments of the world very happy as the disenfranchised average Americans are vulnerable to lies spread on social media.
This week 12 Russian military officers were indicted by the United States for meddling in our 2016 election including stealing the personal information of 500,000 American voters. This on top of the 13 Russian trolls who were indicted in February for spreading propaganda on social media. The United States of America is under Russian attack. Our defense is to not fall victim to their lies that divides us and put our democracy at risk from within.
In Messing with the Enemy: Surviving in a Social Media World of Hackers, Terrorists, Russians and Fake News by Clint Watts, social bots are described as “…programs, defined by a computer algorithm, that produce personas and content on social media applications that replicate a real human.” These are used to spread destructive propaganda that create the allusion that many people believe the same lies as truth. The massive amount and the wide distribution of these lies makes it nearly impossibly to fact check and find the truth. One way to fight this is to not share posts that you did not create yourself. It is safer to post a cute picture of your grandchildren than a Russian lie.
In an authoritarian government individual freedom is totally subordinate to the authority of the state which can be one person or a small group that is not constitutionally accountable to the people. Democracy challenges the power and control of the authoritarian. Defeating or undermining democracies increases the power of the authoritarian at the expense of individual freedom. Our personal freedom is at risk along with our democracy. Our democracy is under attack through social media. We need to strengthen our democracy by really knowing our news sources and their motivations and by participating in our democracy by voting and activism.
Sadly, the President is not protecting our democracy because he is attracted to the power of authoritarianism and is only interested in increasing his own power. It is up to us!