Posted by: robertheinz | October 29, 2012

Have we lost our ability for a critical debate?

For the largest part of my parent’s life, their vote didn’t really matter. Neither did their neighbors, friends or colleagues, as elections in the former German “Democratic” Republic were predetermined in favor of the ruling party. Once they had a “real” choice in a reunited Germany, they installed in me how precious our democratic values really are.

It worries me, that the notion that politicians tell you whatever you want to hear to get elected and after that nothing really changes seems far spread. The gap between Washington D.C. (or any capital in the world) and its voters seems to widen. A lot of things play into this effect, but compliant to our reading assignments, campaigns and politics today are strongly influenced by strategies of personalization and “de-issuetization”. These effects are accelerated by the increasing reach of metric-driven political campaigns and their attempt to create political opposition with everything that leaves there media outlets.

But no issue on the political agenda is either black or white by its very nature, only through a machinery of political communications does it become that polarized subject. In the midst of all of this, I am asking myself how the voter’s role has changed. Despite a more participatory media landscape, voters seem more polarized than ever.  Have we lost our ability for a critical debate in order to come to find consent over a controversial issue? Do we need to learn this ability again, as journalism has done most of the critical thinking for us in the past?

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